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Testing a Baby for Hearing Loss

Mom playing at a table with her daughter.

"Looking back now, we know our worry was all in vain. We are so thankful we found out when we did, and were able to get her the help she needed early on." - Dorothy

Re-screening

All babies who do not pass the first hearing screening should be re-screened again one to two weeks later, or have a complete hearing test. Your baby's doctor, medical home, or the hospital where your baby was born can tell you where to take your child for the hearing re-screen or test.

Regardless, all babies who do not pass the hearing screen or re-screen should have a complete hearing test before 3 months of age.

Testing

A complete hearing test (audiology evaluation) will be done by an expert (audiologist) who is trained to test your baby's hearing. An audiologist who works with children is sometimes called a pediatric audiologist.

An audiology evaluation is more than just one test. Some of the tests the audiologist might use 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 measures how the ears respond to sound.
  • A test that finds out how the ear nerve responds to sound.

The audiologist will also ask you questions about your baby's birth history, ear infection, hearing loss in your family, and how well you think your baby hears.

The results from all the tests and what you told the audiologists are examined together and the audiologist will make a conclusion. With your permission, the audiologist will share the results with your baby's doctor and perhaps an ear, nose and throat doctor (called an  otolaryngologist). Working together, these professionals can help you understand more about your baby. They might want your baby tested by another expert, such as an eye doctor (ophthalmologist), a doctor who is trained to know about genes (geneticist), or others.

Medical Home: A medical home is not a building, house, or hospital. It's a way of seeing that all children get good health care services. A medical home is set up when one professional takes care of a child and makes sure a he or she gets all needed services.

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.

Outer Ear: The outer ear is made up of the parts we see (pinna), the ear canal, and eardrum (tympanic membrane).
Middle Ear: The middle ear is made up of the eardrum and three small bones (ossicles) that send the movement of the eardrum to the inner ear.
Otolaryngologist: A physician who specializes in conditions related to the ear, nose and throat.
Ophthalmologist: A physician that is trained to know about and treat conditions related to the eyes.
Geneticist: A professional that is trained to know about genes and the medical conditions that might be related to genetics. This includes hearing loss.
 

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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
    (800-232-4636)
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC-INFO
USA.gov: 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