Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Program

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There may be several reasons why your baby did not pass the hearing screening:

  • Your baby was too active or did not sleep during the hearing screening.
  • The room was too noisy when your baby had his/her hearing screening to get good screening results.
  • Your baby has a hearing loss—either temporary or permanent.

Whatever the reason may be, if your baby did not pass the newborn hearing screening, he or she needs to have further testing. It is important to find out if your baby has a hearing loss as soon as possible so that your baby can receive assistance learning speech and language beginning the first few months of life.

If your baby passes the newborn hearing screening, you do not need more testing at this time. Just remember your baby's hearing does not have to be perfect to pass.

A small number of babies who pass the newborn hearing screening can lose their hearing—suddenly or gradually—before one year of age or older. If you have a family history of permanent childhood hearing loss, your baby should be tested every year.

  • Test the newborn no sooner than 12 hours after birth.
  • Choose a time when the infant is not being seen by other health care professionals.
  • Test when infants are quiet or sleeping; optimally, one hour following feeding.
  • To help calm a restless infant, swaddle the infant and dim the lights
  • Select a time when the infant is medically stable
  • Ensure a quiet environment for testing, away from background noise
  • Follow standard precautions for infection control (e.g. hand washing, appropriate cleansing of equipment, etc).

View the complete Newborn Hearing Screening Guidelines

The two screening technologies currently available are Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) and Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE).

The primary care provider (PCP) in cooperation with the audiologist directs and coordinates, as needed, the evaluation and referral process within the child's medical home.

There are two ways to screen a baby's hearing. Both ways are comfortable, take only a few minutes and are done while your baby is sleeping.

  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) uses a special computer to measure how well your baby's hearing nerve responds to sounds that are sent to your baby's ears through earphones or ear tips.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) uses a special microphone and computer to measure the response of your baby's ear to soft sounds that are sent through earphones or ear tips.

The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) recommends in the JCIH Position Statement 2007 that infants who have a risk factor for late onset hearing loss should have at least one comprehensive audiologic evaluation by 24- to 30- months of age. Testing should also occur any time there is parent, caregiver or professional concern regarding communication development. 

  • Hearing loss is the most common congenital condition in newborns.
  • The majority of children with hearing losses are born to parents who have normal hearing.
  • In the United States, 33 babies are born every day with a hearing loss.
  • There are many different types and degrees of hearing loss.
  • Children as young as one month of age can be fitted with hearing aids.
  • Most children with hearing losses have no other disability.
  • When a child's hearing loss is diagnosed and treated early, he or she can develop language skills like a child without a hearing loss.
  • Some babies are born with normal hearing but lose their hearing when they are older.

There are 4 types of hearing loss:

  1. conductive hearing loss
  2. sensorineural hearing loss
  3. mixed hearing loss
  4. Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder.

View information on these types of hearing loss in easy to understand, non-technical terms.

Here is a link to the Speech and Language Developmental Milestones from the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

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