Newborn Infant Hearing Screening Program

Why do we test newborns hearing?

Hearing loss can be invisible. Now technology makes it possible to detect a hearing loss in the early days of a baby’s life. The first months and years of a child’s life are very important for developing communication skills. A baby who has hearing loss may have difficulty in developing normal language skills or may not do well in school. This is why it is important to identify the loss early and provide special services to the baby and family. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other professional organizaitons recommend hearing screening for all newborns and encourage close monitoring of children’s hearinging throughout the early years.

How many newborns have a hearing loss?

Serious hearing loss is found in only about 3 out of every 1000 babies. Of those, about half will have had no known signs or risk factors like serious illness or family history of hearing issues. Some babies develop hearing loss later in life from repeated ear infections, meningitis, head injury, or other medical conditions. Sometimes babies lose their hearing and the reason is never known.

How do we screen newborn hearing?

Newborn hearing screenings take place within the first 2-4 weeks after birth. The screening takes only a few minutes while your baby sleeps. Soft sounds are played through ear buds specially made for babies. Your baby’s responses to the sound is automatically measured by Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE). Today’s easy screening methods are very reliable.

What happens when my baby passes their screening?

Hearing should be checked as your baby grows. Newborn hearing screening is a first step in watching your baby’s hearing, speech and language progress. It is important to pay attention to how your baby’s language and speech develop. The “Hearing & Speech Ages & Stages” handout lists some of the things most babies will do at different stages. We will provide you with one at your apointment. If you have any concerns about your baby’s hearing, contact us right away. After the first three years, we recommend annual screenings.

What happens if my baby does not pass their screening?

Not to worry. Many babies need to repeat the screening. Your baby does NOT necessarily have a hearing loss. It is not always possible to get a good first screen. There are a number of factors that can interfere with a hearing screening. For example, an active baby, or fluid or debris in the ear following delivery. If this is the case a repeat screening will be performed two weeks later. If baby still does not pass this screening they will be given a more complete hearing evaluation called an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). Still a very simple test performed while your baby sleeps while listening to sounds played through ear buds specially designed for babies.

What can i do to prepare for babys hearing screening appointment?

It will be helpful if your baby is sleeping during the test. Some suggestions to help prepare your baby for the hearing screening include:

  • Try to not let your baby nap right before the appointment
  • Feeding your baby just before testing may help to get him/her to sleep
  • Bring a blanket, extra diapers, and a change of clothes (just in case)

Call to make an appointment with Best Hearing San Diego for your baby’s hearing screening.

Allow approximately 30 minutes for your visit.


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