Newborn Screening: Hearing test
Good hearing is so important. From the moment she’s born, your baby is learning and her brain is developing—much of which through hearing. Children who have untreated hearing difficulties can have problems with learning, language and speech development.
Hearing loss also makes it harder to develop social skills, such as playing with others. Catching and correcting hearing problems early allows your child to develop at the same rates as other kids.
My Baby Flunked the Hearing Test
Newborn hearing screen is only an initial test. You’ll need further testing to learn if your baby has hearing loss. If your baby doesn’t pass the first screening she’ll be referred to a hearing specialist (audiologist) for a full hearing test.
This test should be completed before she is 3 months old, and just like the first screening it’s not painful. An audiologist will ask you lots of questions about your family’s health and any history of hearing loss. After the hearing test, the audiologist will give a report to your healthcare provider and you may be referred to a genetics counselor, an ear, nose and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) or even an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) for follow-up.
What If My Baby Has Hearing Loss?
Babies with hearing difficulties should receive help by six months. Interventions can range from learning sign language to wearing a hearing aid or having surgery.
Babies are really smart; signing as you speak is a great way to communicate. Your baby’s brothers and sisters can learn to sign and there may be infant and toddler signing classes in your area. Even if your baby doesn’t have a hearing loss, learning to sign is a lot of fun and gives your baby another way to communicate. Depending on the degree and type of hearing loss, your baby may need a hearing aid or even surgery.
Even if your baby passes the first newborn hearing screen it is important to be aware of signs that your baby may have hearing loss.
Newborn Screening Basics
Helen Hurst, DNP, RNC, APRN-CNM, is a nurse expert adviser to Healthy Mom&Baby.