Newborn Hearing Screening

A hearing screening is a test to tell if an infant might have a hearing loss. Hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop communication, language, and social skills.  The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential.

Importance of Hearing Screening

  • Hearing loss is the most commonly occurring disorder in infants in the US and affects as many as 1 to 3 out of 1000 babies born each year.
  • Genetic factors are the cause of hearing loss in some of babies, particularly those with a family history of hearing loss.
  • Delayed detection of hearing loss can lead to communication, social, psychological, behavioral, and educational challenges.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants be screened by 1 month of age, diagnosed by 3 months of age, and receive early intervention services no later than 6 months of age.

Types of Screening

Transient Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions (TEOAE)

TEOAE, the most common technique, takes place in the hospital and involves the placement of a small ear probe in the baby’s ear canal. In the ear probe are transmitter and receiver components. The transmitter sends out a series of click sounds that then travel from the ear canal, through the middle ear, to the inner ear which, in a healthy ear, produce an "echo" in response to these incoming click sounds. The "echo" travels back out to the ear canal where the response is recorded.

Automated Auditory Brainstem Response

A second screening method, the automated auditory brainstem response is completed on infants for whom the TEOAE cannot be performed or whose TEOAE screen does not meet "pass" criteria; this screening provides an electrophysiological measure of the hearing pathway along the auditory nerve. Small sensors are placed on the baby’s head and earphones are also used.