Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

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.

Why Hearing Screening is Important

  • Hearing loss is the most common disorder in infants and affects one to three out of every 1,000 babies born each year.
  • Genetic factors can cause hearing loss in some babies, especially if there is 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 one month, diagnosed by three months, and start getting early intervention services no later than six months.
Resources for Families Resources for Providers

1 Month: Screening

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)

OAE, the most common test, is done in the hospital. A small ear probe is put in the baby’s ear. The ear probe can send and receive signals. It sends click sounds that go through all the parts of a baby’s ear. If the baby’s ear is healthy, it will make an echo from the click sounds, and the echo will go back to the ear probe. The ear probe records any echo it receives.  

Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR)

If an infant cannot get a OAE or if an infant doesn’t pass the OAE, they can get a different test – an automated auditory brainstem response. For this test, small sensors are put on the baby’s head, and the baby will wear earphones. This test measures how the nerves that control hearing respond to sound. Small sensors are placed on the baby’s head and earphones are also used. Both of these tests are safe and do not hurt.

Both of these test must be done at the hospital your baby was born. If your baby was born at home, your midwife needs to give you a referral to one of these birthing hospitals.

  • Newport: Newport Hospital, 11 Friendship St., 401-845-1110
  • Providence: Women & Infants Hospital, 134 Thurbers Ave., Ste 215, 401-274-1122 x43918
  • South Kingstown: South County Hospital, 100 Kenyon Ave., 401-788-1225
  • Warwick: Kent Hospital, 455 Toll Gate Rd., 401-736-1988
  • Woonsocket: Landmark Medical Center, 115 Cass Ave., 401-769-4100 ext. 2218

    3 Months: Diagnosis by an Audiologist

    An audiologist is a kind of healthcare provider who takes care of people who have a hearing loss. An audiologist will be able to diagnose your child and will explain what you need to do next.

    Find Pediatric Audiologists

    6 Months: Early Intervention

    Early Intervention (EI) is an important service that is for a child who is Deaf or hard of hearing. Staff in the EI Program works with the whole family and helps you decide what your child needs. Every child is different. The most important thing is to go to EI as soon as possible so your child learns how to communicate.