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What's Your Baby's Hearing Screening Result?

Babies start to develop language at birth

Since the very first day they are born babies start learning by listening and interacting with the sounds and voices around them. But, when a baby is born with hearing loss, many sounds and voices are not heard, and the child's speech and language development can be delayed.

Photo: A woman checking a newborn's hearing

Hearing screening is quick and most babies sleep through the test.

Hearing loss can be found early

It is important to identify hearing loss early. Early identification allows families to make decisions about their child's care that can affect speech, language, and social development.

Each year in the United States, as many as 12,000 babies are born with a hearing loss. The cause of hearing loss for many babies is not known, and hearing loss can go unnoticed for years.

Fortunately, almost all states, communities, and hospitals now offer hearing screening for all babies. The hearing screening is easy and painless, and can identify whether more testing is needed. In fact, babies often are asleep while being screened. It takes very little time—usually only a few minutes.

Steps families can take to help babies develop their language

All infants should be screened for hearing loss no later than 1 month of age. It is best if they are screened before leaving the hospital. If the baby does not pass this hearing screening, it's very important to make an appointment for a full hearing test no later than 3 months of age. Every child with confirmed hearing loss should see an ear nose and throat doctor and have needed medical tests.

All babies should be screened for hearing loss during the first month. Babies who do not pass the hearing test should see a specialist no later than 3 months of age. CDC’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

A professional trained to test hearing loss, such as an audiologist will be able to perform the hearing tests and the baby's doctor (or an ear, nose, and throat doctor or geneticist) should perform or order any needed medical tests to find out the cause of the hearing loss. Because a newborn baby can pass the hearing screening and still develop a hearing loss, the baby's doctor should routinely follow the baby's general health, development, and well-being.

The goal for every newborn child with hearing loss is to receive medical, audiologic, educational, and support services no later than 6 months of age. Receiving services at an early age will help the child develop communication and language skills that will last a lifetime.

Where to go for help

Every state has an Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program that works to identify infants and children with hearing loss and promotes timely follow-up testing and services for any family whose child has a hearing loss. If your baby has a hearing loss or if you have any concerns about your baby's hearing, call toll free 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit the EHDI Program site to learn more about this topic and available services in your area.

What is CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities doing about early hearing screening and intervention?

Photo: A mother and childMetropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP)

CDC tracks the number of eight year old children in a five-county area in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia who have moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. For this project, we define moderate to profound hearing loss as a 40 dB or greater loss in the better ear, without the use of hearing aids.

National Surveys

CDC conducts two nationally representative surveys that provide data on health conditions in U.S. children: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Hearing Screening and Follow-Up Survey

CDC's Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Program works with states to conduct the Hearing Screening and Follow-Up Survey. This survey helps us to learn how many infants are screened for, diagnosed with, and receiving intervention services for hearing loss; the type and severity of hearing loss; and demographic data on infants with hearing loss.

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