As parents, you may have questions about newborn hearing screening and what to do if your baby doesn’t pass (“refer”). It’s important to complete all of your baby’s hearing screenings as soon as possible. Most babies identified as deaf or hard of hearing are born to hearing parents. If your baby doesn’t pass the hearing screening, more hearing testing is needed before three months of age. If your baby is identified as deaf or hard of hearing, it’s important to learn to communicate with your baby. Parents of babies who are deaf or hard of hearing will need to learn about new resources and understand various types of communication.
It is important for you to know exactly what your child can hear
Hearing loss is an invisible condition and can be hard for parents to identify because children will react to social and enviornmental clues, and respond as if they can hear. A child may be able to respond to loud noises, however, even a mild hearing loss can impact your child's ability to develop normal speech and language skills.
Hearing loss can also happen as your baby gets older. If your baby has risk factors for late onset or progressive hearing loss, it is important to have your baby’s hearing checked often. View Is Your Child "AT RISK" for Hearing Loss?
Information about Newborn Hearing Screening
Approximately one to three babies out of 1,000 will be born deaf or hard of hearing. The Nebraska Infant Hearing Act has set the goal of having every baby's hearing screened during the birth admission. If your baby does not pass this screening, another hearing screening before four weeks of age is recommended. Babies start to learn speech and language very early. If childhood deafness is not detected early, a baby will miss a very critical period for speech and language development.
If your baby does not pass the newborn hearing screenings, a complete hearing evaluation before three months of age is needed to determine if your child has a hearing loss in one or both ears.
What hearing tests are needed?
How is my Baby Tested?
There are two tests which may be used to screen a baby's hearing. Both are comfortable and are done while the baby is sleeping.
Auditory Emissions (ABR)
Soft clicking sounds are played through earphones into the baby's ears. Band-Aid like sensors, placed on the baby's head, measure the brain's response to these soft sounds. The machine compares the baby's response to an expected normal range of responses. If the baby's response falls in this range, the baby passes the hearing screening.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)
Soft beeping of clicking sounds are played into the baby's ear through a small earphone which also has a microphone in it. The microphone measures a response in the ear canal like an "echo". If an "echo" response is measured, the baby passes the newborn hearing screen. If there is no "echo" response, the baby does not pass the hearing screen.
If a baby does not pass the hearing screening test, a second hearing screening test will be given before discharge or within a few weeks after the baby goes home from the hospital. It is very important that this second screening test be done before the baby is one month of age.
About one to three of every 1,000 Nebraska babies are born deaf or hard of hearing. Most are born to parents with normal hearing. Parents of babies born deaf or hard of hearing often have many questions and want information about how to help their baby.
Where can I find out more about my baby's hearing?
Where can I find information about technology and communication choices?
Are there other families who I can talk to?