Universal Newborn Hearing screening

How is a baby’s hearing screened?

The purpose of newborn screening is to identify children who are at greater risk for hearing loss so that they may receive timely diagnostic and intervention services.

Hearing screenings are not diagnostic evaluations. Screening tests identify a need for further diagnostic hearing evaluations.

What is the youngest age that a child's hearing can effectively be tested?

Hearing can be assessed at any age, even the day that a child is born. Brainstem Auditory Evoked Responses (BAER) and Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions (EOAE) evaluations are an effective and efficient means for identifying hearing loss.

How is a baby’s hearing screened?

Hospital screening personnel will use one or two screening methods: Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) – Sounds are played into the baby’s ears. Band-aid like electrodes are placed on the baby’s head to detect responses. This test measures how the hearing nerve and the brainstem respond to the sounds and can identify if the baby’s ear responded to sound. Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) – A miniature earphone and microphone are placed in the ear, sounds are played and a response is measured. If a baby’s ear responds normally, an echo is reflected back into the ear canal and is measured by the microphone.

What happens if a baby needs to be re-screened?

It is important for you to understand that referral for a second screening does not necessarily means that your baby has a hearing loss. The most common reasons that a your baby would need a re-screening include otitis media with effusion, an ear canal blocked with debris, or a permanent hear loss.

If a child passes the newborn screen, when should they be tested again?

Children with any risk factors for progressive hearing loss should continue to have their hearing monitored. If speech-language milestones are delayed, the child’s hearing should be re-evaluated. Also, if the you are concerned about your child’s hearing re-evaluation is usually appropriate.

What if a hearing loss is identified?

The goal of universal new born hearing screening is to identify children with hearing loss early, in order to initiate intervention services by six months of age intervention services include properly fitted amplification family, focused communication strategies early childhood services, and parental support groups.

Why not wait until babies are older?

The critical ears for the acquisition of speech and language are 0-3 making early identification crucial. Children with hearing loss, even those with mild to moderate losses, who are identified later in life, may have social- emotional difficulties as well as language and educational delays. Parent child relationship are compromised there is an unrecognized difference in hearing status between parent and child. The earlier that hearing loss is identified and intervention begins, the more natural parent-child communication may become, this enhance parent-child bounding and the child’s social- emotional , cognitive, and language development.

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What is the purpose of Universal Newborn Hearing screening?


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