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Infant Hearing Screenings

Screening Facts

  • Language and communication are very important for everyone, especially babies.

  • A state law requires babies to be screened before going home from the hospital.

  • Newborn and infant hearing screenings are simple and safe.

  • Screening is done shortly after birth in the mother’s room or nursery.

  • Babies are only screened up to two times in the hospital before discharge.

  • Babies often sleep through the hearing screening test.

  • Screening time varies, but can be 15 minutes or less.

  • Screening shows risk for hearing loss.

  • Hearing loss is common in newborns and infants.

  • Finding hearing loss early is important so babies can learn to communicate and develop language skills. 

Screening Tests

One or both of the below hearing screening tests may be used to screen a newborn or infant. Both tests look for risk for hearing loss.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE): This test uses small, soft foam or rubber tips. These tips are placed inside the baby’s ears and the baby hears soft sounds. Small echoes are recorded from the baby’s ear to see if there is good function in the inner ear.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): This test uses three small patches are placed on the baby’s face, shoulder and neck, then small headphones placed over the baby’s ear or small ear tips are placed in the baby’s ears and the baby hears soft sounds. This test records information from the hearing nerve.   

Screening Results

PASS results: The baby passed the hearing screening today. Hearing can change as a baby grows, so it is important to monitor the baby’s speech, language, and communication. Sometimes, babies with hearing loss pass the hearing screening test.  Always talk, sing and read to your baby this helps bond with your baby. Babies enjoy stories and songs and this helps babies learn to communicate. If there are any questions about the baby’s hearing, talk to your baby’s doctor and request a more detailed test.

Pass with risk factor(s): The baby passed the hearing screening today, but there is a risk factor(s). The risk factor means that there may be a hearing loss that develops later or your baby may have a higher chance for hearing loss.  It’s important to follow the recommendations for follow up testing and monitor your baby’s communication. If a follow up test is recommended, make sure to take your baby in for the testing.

NON-PASS results: The baby did not pass the hearing screening and a more detailed test is needed. The hearing evaluation is important and should be scheduled soon, between 2-4 weeks after discharge and testing should be completed by three months.  The baby will see a pediatric audiologist who can find hearing loss. This step is important to find hearing loss early.  Sometimes it takes a few appointments to complete the testing.

Family Support

  • The hospital or birthing center will give the results in writing to the parents or caregiver.

  • The same information is provided to the baby’s doctor.

  • Results include the type of screening test, results for each ear and any risk factors for hearing loss.

  • If the baby does not pass the second screening, a recommendation for a hearing evaluation is needed to learn more about the baby’s hearing.

  • Hearing evaluations may be scheduled by the hospital or birthing center.

  • The hospital or birthing center may provide a list of audiologists close by that do hearing evaluations.

 

Page Updated 09/30/2016