In New Hampshire, all hospitals with birth facilities offer newborn hearing screening before babies go home. Babies who do not pass their hearing screening are referred for hearing testing by qualified audiologists.
Hearing screening is quick, easy, and does not hurt. Many infants sleep through the screening. Special hearing screening equipment is needed. Hospitals use OtoAcoustic Emissions (OAE) or Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) equipment. An OAE screening uses tiny earphones placed in the infant's ear. It is done while the baby is sleeping or very quiet. The machine records the ear's response to sound. An ABR screening uses three sensors placed on the infant's head. It is done while the infant is sleeping. The machine measures the brain's response to sound.
Infants who do not pass their hearing screening are referred to Level I Pediatric Audiology Diagnostic Centers for special testing. Audiologists at these Centers have the skills and equipment needed to test infants and toddlers. Diagnostic testing results are reported to the infant's primary care provider and the EHDI Program. Babies identified with hearing loss may be referred for other services.
Passing a newborn hearing screening means that the baby could hear at the time of the screening. Hearing loss can occur at any age. A hearing screening should be done ANY TIME there is a concern about hearing.
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