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Screening Newborns

Read this page to find out what newborn hearing screening is, and why hospitals do it.

What is newborn hearing screening?
Newborn hearing screening is testing a baby for hearing loss right after he's born.

baby boyDifferent hospitals use different tests. These tests are done while your baby sleeps. These are the most common tests:

Why hospitals do it

  • Every day, 33 babies in this country are born with sensorineural hearing loss.
    • Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by problems in the inner ear and/or the nerves or pathways to the brain.
    • You can't see this kind of hearing loss by looking at a child.
      Your baby's outer and middle ears may be normal in appearance.
  • The younger your child is when you find the hearing loss, the earlier you can get help.
    • It's best to get help before your child is 6 months old. Getting help early can help your child learn language when it is easiest for him or her.
  • Today, many states have laws saying that hospitals must screen newborns.

What happens after your baby is screened

  1. You get the results of the test back. The results are "pass" or "refer".
    • "Pass" means that your child seems to have normal hearing.
    • "Refer" means that your baby needs more hearing tests.
  2. If your baby gets a "refer" result, the hospital will send you to an audiologist.
    • The audiologist will test your child to see if he really has a hearing loss.
    • She will test your child to see what he can and can't hear.
    • Many babies who get a "refer" result turn out to have normal hearing.
  3. If your baby has a real hearing loss, he may get hearing aids. He may also join an early intervention program.
    • Hearing aids help your baby take in as much sound as possible.
    • Early intervention can help you learn more about your baby's hearing.
    • These programs teach you how to communicate with your baby.
  4. If your baby doesn't have a hearing loss now, watch for signs of hearing loss later.
    • Newborn hearing screening doesn't catch all babies with hearing loss.
    • Your child could develop a hearing loss after he's been tested.
    • If you don't see the signs early on, your child could go months or years without help.

Helpful Video
This video is called 'Sound Beginnings':

  • It will tell you more about newborn hearing screening.
  • It talks about the different ways your baby's hearing can be tested.
  • You need Windows Media Player to play this video. Go here to get Window's Media Player if you don't have it.

Click on the connection speed you use to view the video:

The video above was provided by The National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM). It can be purchased on VHS tape for $15.00 or downloaded for free at www.infanthearing.org. The video is also available in Spanish on their website.

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