According to the CDC, as many as 12,000 babies are born with a hearing loss every year and early detection allows for early speech and language intervention. It is recommended that all babies be screened before one month of age, preferably before leaving the hospital. For babies born at home, contact a local audiologist to get your baby's hearing checked.
Many hospitals and clinics use an ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) machine that tests your baby’s brain responses to sound. Other facilities use an OAE (Otoacoustic Emissions) device which measures the normal echo response of the inner ear. Both methods of assessing hearing in newborns are safe and painless.
Babies who fail the hearing test will need to be retested on an outpatient basis. Your baby’s healthcare provider will give you specific follow-up instruction and it is very important that you follow his recommendations. Babies who fail should be seen by a specialist by the third month of life with early intervention therapies occurring by the sixth month of life. Unfortunately, almost half of the babies who fail their initial hearing screen fail to have appropriate follow-up.
If your baby fails the hearing test at the hospital, it does not mean that he has hearing loss. Other causes that can cause a newborn to fail his hearing test include (but are not limited to):
Fluid present in the baby’s ears,
Noise in the testing room
and/or Movement of the baby during the test.
There are also instances in which a baby passes the first hearing screen and loses hearing later due to illness, injury, medications and/or heredity. Be sure to let your baby’s healthcare provider know if there is a history of hearing loss in your or the father’s immediate family.
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