Unidentified hearing loss can cause delays in developing communication, language, academic and social skills. To help make sure that infants with hearing loss are identified early, the National Institute of Health decided that is was important that all infants are screened for hearing loss. Many hospitals offer these screening while mother and newborn are still in the hospital.
How can they do a hearing test on my infant?
For the early infant hearing screening, an Auditory Brainstem Response screening or ABR will be done.
- The medical staff will put electrodes on your child’s head. These will show the brain’s response to sounds.
- Either headphones or small speakers are placed on or in your child’s ears.
- The audiologist sends sounds into the speakers, and the ABR machine shows the brain “hearing” the sounds.
- If the sounds have to be turned up louder than normal to see a brain response, then your child may have a hearing loss.
- If the test shows that your child may have a hearing loss, you will be referred for a diagnostic ABR.
- The diagnostic ABR will give more exact information about your child’s hearing.
For more information about Early Infant Screening, visit Texas EHDI.
The Goals of Early Identification and Intervention
There are three main goals for early identification and intervention of infants who are deaf or hard of hearing. This plan is called “1, 3, 6,” which means:
- By 1 month, all children will get a hearing screening.
- By 3 months, all children who have hearing loss will be identified.
- By 6 months, all children with hearing loss will get support from a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing.
For detailed information about this process, see Joint Commission on Infant Hearing.