Why does my newborn need to be screened for hearing loss? — Screening is important because the sooner you know that your baby has a hearing problem, the sooner he or she can get help that will make it less likely that the hearing loss will cause problems with learning to talk.
How will my newborn be screened for hearing loss? — There are 2 different tests for hearing loss in newborns:
●Auditory brainstem response – For this test, the doctor will put 3 small devices called electrodes on your baby: on the forehead, back of the neck, and behind the ear. The electrodes connect to a machine that measures how your baby’s brain responds to a clicking sound.
●Otoacoustic emissions – For this test, the doctor puts a small microphone into your baby’s ear. The microphone makes sounds (clicks or a tone) and measures sound waves from the cochlea, the area inside the ear that allows you to hear (figure 1).
Both of these tests are painless and take between 5 to 15 minutes. If a test suggests that your newborn has hearing loss, he or she will get another test. Your baby might also need to be checked by an expert in hearing problems, called an “audiologist.”
Are some newborns more likely to have hearing loss? — Yes. Newborns with certain conditions are more likely to have hearing loss. These conditions include:
●Being in the “neonatal intensive care unit” (also called the “NICU”) for more than 2 days. Newborns spend time in the NICU if they are born too early or have other health problems.
●A family history of hearing loss in childhood or other conditions that cause hearing problems
●An abnormal shape to one or both ears
●A serious form of a condition called “jaundice” that causes yellow skin and other problems