Your Baby’s Hearing Screen

It’s Important to Have Your Baby’s Hearing Screened

Most children hear and listen to sounds from birth. They learn to talk by imitating the sounds around them and the voices of their parents and caregivers. But that’s not true for all children. In fact, about two or three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard-of-hearing. More lose their hearing later during childhood. Many of these children may need to learn speech and language differently, so it’s important to detect deafness or hearing loss as early as possible. For this reason, universal newborn hearing screening programs currently operate in all U.S. states and most of the territories. With help from the federal government, every state has established an Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program as part of its public health system. As a result, more than 95 percent of babies have their hearing screened soon after they are born.
When will my baby’s hearing be screened?

Your baby’s hearing should be screened before he or she leaves the hospital or birthing center. If you and your baby are already home and you haven’t been told the results of the hearing screening, ask your doctor. If the results indicate your baby may have hearing loss, it’s important to work with your doctor to make an appointment with a hearing expert, called an audiologist (aw-dee-AH-luh-jist), to perform a more thorough hearing test before your baby is 3 months old.

How will my baby’s hearing be screened?

Two different tests are used to screen for hearing loss in babies. In both tests, no activity is required from your child other than lying still.

1) The otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test shows whether parts of the ear respond properly to sound. During this test, a soft sponge earphone is inserted into your baby’s ear canal and emits a series of sounds to measure an “echo” response that occurs in normal hearing ears. If there is no echo, it could indicate hearing loss.
2) The auditory brain stem response (ABR) test checks how the auditory brain stem (the part of the nerve that carries sound from the ear to the brain) and the brain respond to sound by measuring their electrical activity as your child listens. During this test, your baby wears small earphones in the ears and electrodes on the head. Your baby might be given a mild sedative to keep him or her calm and quiet during the test. If your child doesn’t respond consistently to the sounds presented during either of these tests, your doctor will suggest a follow-up hearing screening and a referral to an audiologist for a more comprehensive hearing evaluation. If hearing loss is confirmed, it’s important to consider the use of hearing devices and other communication options before your baby is 6 months old.

For more information- NIDCD (National Institute For Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

What to do if the Hearing Screen Reveals a Possible Problem. – link
*Remember, if your baby didn’t pass the hearing screening, you should schedule a follow-up examination with an audiologist before your child is 3 months old.*

TEHDI- Texas Early Hearing Detection and Intervention


    Their FAQ (Frequently Answered Questions) page is here. In Texas, approximately 2% of children receiving a hearing screen do not pass it at birth.