Universal Newborn Hearing Screening

The newborn hearing screening is vital to identifying children with hearing loss early, so that appropriate intervention can begin while they are in the language development phase. Prior to the newborn hearing screening, most children were 2-3 years old before a hearing loss was identified, and a significant portion of the language development window had already passed. Because of the newborn hearing screening, babies with hearing loss are identified and begin receiving treatment as soon as three months of age. This early intervention is monumental in language development, and provides an amazing opportunity for infants with hearing loss to communicate well through their entire lives.

We understand that the UNHS process can be a stressful time for new parents. Our goal is to provide you with clear information and recommendations in a timely manner. Approximately 10% of babies do not pass their newborn hearing test in the hospital, usually due to debris in the ear canal. Most of these infants go on to pass their re-screening; however, about 3% have either a temporary or permanent hearing problem. It is important to identify hearing problems as early as possible in order to provide timely treatment in these initial months of life.

The Appointment

You should plan to be at our office for two hours. First your child will see an audiologist who performs the hearing screening, then you will see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician to discuss the results.

The equipment is very sensitive to sound and movement. Results are easiest to read if we run the test while your child is eating and/or sleeping. If possible, arrange the appointment so that the baby is hungry at the time that testing is scheduled to begin. As we set up for testing, you can feed the baby, and hopefully he or she will fall asleep for the remainder of testing. We are still able to complete testing if the baby is awake, so there is no need to worry or reschedule if you do not think the baby will be sleeping.

We will complete three different types of testing during the appointment:

  1. Tympanometry: Verifies eardrum movement to rule out problems with the eardrum or with fluid in the ear.
  2. Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs): Measures a small echo that the organ of hearing makes in response to certain sounds. OAEs provide information on the overall health of the inner ear.
  3. Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): Measures brainwaves to determine if the sounds that are played in the ear are heard in the brain.

Click here for more information on the Ohio Infant Hearing Program.


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