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Newborn Hearing Screening

Doctor checking on an infant.

"Our daughter's hearing loss was identified through the newborn screen. Whenever friends have babies, I ask, Did they get the newborn hearing screen?quot; - Dorothy

Infants and Babies' Hearing Can Be Checked

Do you know that your baby's hearing can be checked even before leaving the birth hospital? Many states, communities, and hospitals now offer hearing screening for babies. A baby's hearing can be screened using Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR), Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE), or both.

Babies usually have their hearing screened while still in the hospital, either in the nursery or in their mothers' room.

All babies should have a hearing screening before they are one month old

Hearing screening is easy and is not painful. In fact, babies are often asleep while being screened. It takes a very short time — usually only a few minutes. Sometimes the screening is repeated while the babies are still in the hospital or shortly after they leave the hospital.

Babies who do not pass hearing screening should be tested by an audiologist. An audiologist is a person trained to test hearing. This person will do additional testing to find out if there is a hearing loss. There are many kinds of tests an audiologist can do to find out if a baby has a hearing loss, how much of a hearing loss there is, and what type it is.

All babies who do not pass the first screening should have a complete hearing test before three months of age

Finding a hearing loss early and getting into a program that helps babies with hearing loss (beginning before a baby is six months old) helps a child to:

  • Communicate better with others.
  • Do well in school.
  • Get along with other children.

All babies with hearing loss should begin intervention services before six months of age

Intervention services are types of programs and resources available for children and their families. An intervention might be:

  • Meeting with a professional (or team) who is trained to work with children who have a hearing loss, and their families.
  • Working with a professional (or team) who can help a family and child learn to communicate.
  • Fitting a baby with a hearing device, such as a hearing aid.
  • Joining family support groups.
  • Other resources available to children with a hearing loss and their families.

Automated Auditory Brainstem Response test (AABR): This test that measures the brain's response to sound using electrodes.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE): a test that measures the ear's response to sound.

Audiologist: A professional trained to test hearing by performing audiology evaluations .

Audiology Evaluation: A complete hearing evaluation performed by an audiologist. The evaluations include:

  • A test that will tell the audiologist how your baby's outer and middle ear are working.
  • A test that measures how your baby reacts to sounds.
  • A test that checks the ears' response to sound.
  • A test that checks the brain's response to sound.

The audiologist will ask you questions about your baby's health, hearing loss in you family, and how well you think your baby hears.

Hearing Aid: Hearing aids make sounds louder and clearer. Hearing aids are be worn by people of any age — including infants. Young babies with hearing loss can better understand sounds using hearing aids. This gives them the chance to learn speech skills right from birth.

There are many styles of hearing aids. They can help many types of hearing losses — mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Your baby's audiologist will help you pick the best type for your baby's hearing loss. A young child is usually fitted with behind-the-ear (BTE) style hearing aids because they adjust better on growing ears. Behind-the-ear hearing aids come in skin tone as well as many bright colors.

Mild Hearing Loss: A person with a mild hearing loss may hear some speech sounds but soft sounds are hard to hear.

Moderate Hearing Loss: A person with a moderate hearing loss may hear almost no speech when another person is talking at a normal level.

Severe Hearing Loss: A person with severe hearing loss will hear no speech of a person talking at a normal level and only some loud sounds.

Profound Hearing Loss: A person with a profound hearing loss will not hear any speech and only very loud sounds.


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Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Pediatric Audiology Links to Services (EHDI-PALS) button


Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

    Hearing Loss Team

    1600 Clifton Road
    MS E-87
    Atlanta, GA 30333
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC-INFO The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC-INFO