Universal Newborn Hearing Screening
Frequently Ask Questions for Parents
choose from the questions below for more information about Universal
Newborn Hearing Screening / Early Hearing Detection & Intervention
It is a screening test to check if your baby's hearing is normal at birth or if more testing is needed.
is it done?
It is important to check your baby's hearing in the newborn
nursery prior to hospital discharge. If your birthing facility
does not offer the screening, ask to be referred to a facility
that does and have it performed before your baby is one
month of age.
is it done?
This screening is not painful in any way to your baby. There
are two pieces of equipment used to screen babies hearing, Otoacoustic
Emissions (OAE) and Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR). With
three tiny sensors are placed on your baby’s head using
a jelly-like substance. The machine makes a soft clicking sound.
As your baby listens to the sounds through the ear cups, the
sensors record and measure how your baby’s brain responds
to the clicks. With the OAE, a soft probe is placed into the
ear canals. Soft sounds are played into the ear and when the
ear is working normally, thousands of invisible hair cells in
the ear move in response to the incoming sound. When the hairs
move, they make sounds of their own which leak back out through
the ear and are measured by a sensitive microphone located in
the probe. When hearing loss exists, the hair cells are damaged
and do not emit a sound.
is it important?
Hearing loss is the most common birth disorder in newborns.
About three out of every 1,000 babies are born with some type
of hearing loss. Before newborn hearing screening, the average
age of detection of hearing loss was between two and three years
of age. Hearing loss that goes untreated may lead to speech
and language delays, as well as delays in school. However, delays
may be lessened or avoided if a hearing loss is discovered early, before three months of age,
and the infant receives treatment through early intervention.
causes hearing loss in newborns?
There are many causes of hearing loss in newborns. Some may
be temporary and easily corrected. For example, a blockage of
the ear canal, or fluid in the middle ear may cause a hearing
loss. Some hearing loss is permanent and may only be corrected
by hearing aids or other listening devices. Some infections
that mothers may have during pregnancy, such as Rubella, may
cause an infant’s hearing loss at birth. Hearing loss
may also be passed on in families. Sometimes there is no known
cause for hearing loss in newborns. For list of known causes
of hearing loss in newborns, please see the list of risk factors.
does it mean if my baby does not pass their newborn hearning screening?
It does not mean that your baby cannot hear. It only means that
your baby needs to be screened again while in the newborn nursery.
If your baby does not pass the second, or if necessary, third
screen, he/she will need to see a hearing specialist (audiologist)
for further tests. The audiologist will do special tests to
find out for sure if there is a hearing loss, and if so, what
kind of hearing loss it is. The audiologist will also evaluate
how loud different sounds need to be in order for your baby
to hear them. Your baby should see a pediatric audiologist,
someone that specializes in children’s hearing loss, before
three months of age.
is important to note that some babies do not have hearing loss
at birth, but may develop hearing loss later in life. If a hearing
loss is suspected at any time, please contact your health care
provider. To determine if your child may not be hearing properly,
please refer to the .
do I do if my baby does not pass the hearing test with the audiologist?
There is a special program for families of infants and toddlers,
birth to three years of age, who have special needs, including
hearing loss. This program is called the Early Intervention/Infant
Learning Program (EI/ILP) and is available through the State
of Alaska, Dept. of Health and Social Services. For more information,
information is available about newborn hearing screening?
Alaska’s Early Hearing Detection & Intervention (EHDI)
Program has developed the following information for parents
and the general public. To receive hard copies of the material(s),
or fax us an .
an effort to promote public awareness regarding UNHS, a four-pronged
approach covering all steps involved in the diagnosis of a possible
hearing loss, was developed and outlined below:
Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) general brochure
includes basic information about newborn hearing screening,
including information about what the screening is and why it
is being done, and strives to represent all Alaskans by including
photos of children from various ethnic backgrounds.
The brochure is intended for pregnant mothers, those women that
have just given birth, and the general public. Ideal locations
for delivery of the brochure include, but are not limited to,
childbirth and prenatal classes, ob/gyns offices, mother baby
units, and birthing centers.
the Next Step?” brochure includes
information about who parents should contact in their community
for further testing regarding a suspected hearing loss and why
this is important in terms of reducing or minimizing developmental
delays. “What’s the Next Step?” is intended
for parents of newborns who refer, or do not pass, the hearing
screening in the nursery. It will be available for nurses, audiologists,
and other health care providers who work with children and hearing
loss, to deliver to parents as needed.
Communicate with Your Child brochure was
developed in a format easy for parents to read and locate information
about what should be done after a hearing loss is detected,
including who to contact,
and other basics regarding how best for parents to help an infant/child
with hearing loss communicate.
Early Hearing Detection & Intervention (EHDI) parent resource
in a format easy for parents to read and divided into sections
to make it simple to locate information including introductions,
frequently asked questions, checklists, resources, and terminology.
Included in the manual are topics including information regarding
hearing loss, tests, early intervention, advocacy, communication
options, and educational options.