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Newborn Hearing

What is newborn hearing screening?

Newborn hearing screening is quick procedure that checks your baby’s hearing and identifies those babies who need further audiological testing. Hearing screening should be done before one month of age.

Why is newborn hearing screening important?

Newborn hearing screening is the first step in determining how your baby hears. Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects. Each ear 12,000 infants are born deaf or hard of hearing. When left undetected a hearing loss can delay speech and language development as well as thinking, learning and social skills.

How is newborn hearing screening done?

Newborn hearing screening is painless and takes about 15 minutes. It should be done while your baby is asleep in a quite environment. A computer-based screener is used to record each ears response to sound. The computer-based screener automatically gives a pass or did not pass result and does not require your baby to respond. There are two ways to screen a baby:

  • Automated Brainstem Response (ABR)
    Three sensors are placed on your baby’s head and soft sounds are presented through earphones
  • OtoAcoustic Emissions (OAE)
    Soft sounds are presented through foam tips which are placed in tour baby’s ears.

What do the newborn hearing screening results mean?

  • Pass means that your baby has adequate hearing at the time of the screening. Some babies who pass the screening may require further testing due to family history or medical condition.
  • Did Not Pass means that your baby did not pass the screening. If your baby did not pass the screening, a second screening will be done. If your baby does not pass or “refers” on the second screening, your baby will to be scheduled for a diagnostic hearing test with an audiologist. The audiologist will be able to determine if there is a hearing loss.

What if your baby is born at home or at a birth center?

If you chose to have your baby at home or at a birth center a hearing screen will be offered to you at your two week appointment. Currently there are 5 hearing screening machines throughout the state that any midwife can use to do a hearing screen. Some hospitals will do an outpatient hearing screen for infants delivered at home or at a birth center.

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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
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