Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) - FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (Click Each Question for the Answers)

WHY SHOULD MY BABY’S HEARING BE SCREENED?

Hearing loss is one of the most common problems in newborns. It occurs in 3-4 of every 1,000 babies. It is also invisible. You cannot always tell by watching how well babies hear. They may cry, babble, or startle to loud noises, just like babies with normal hearing. Most babies born with hearing loss are otherwise healthy and have no family history of hearing loss.

Your babys first two years are the most important for learning speech and language. Undetected hearing loss can lead to delayed development and difficulties in school. Fortunately, if hearing loss is identified early and intervention occurs by age 6 months, the child has a better chance of developing normal speech and language skills.

 

HOW WILL MY BABY’S SCREENING TEST BE DONE?

The screening is done in the hospital before your baby goes home. Soft sounds are played through special earphones. A computer measures how the baby’s ear responds to the sound. Screening is safe, painless and only takes a few minutes. Most babies sleep through the hearing screening. Some babies may require a second screening if they are too active or have birthing fluids in the ear canal.

 

IF MY BABY PASSES THE SCREENING, DO I NEED TO RETEST HEARING LATER?

The results of the hearing screening show how your baby is hearing at the time of the procedure. For a variety of reasons, hearing loss can develop after your baby leaves the hospital. Some children with a family history of hearing loss, ear infections or serious illness may develop hearing loss at a later time. If you have concerns about your childs hearing or language development, talk to your childs doctor. Ask to see an audiologist. Your childs hearing can be tested at any age.

 

MY BABY DID NOT PASS THE SCREENING - CAN MY BABY HEAR?

There are many reasons your baby may not pass the screening. Perhaps your baby was moving or crying during the test, or there may have been birthing fluids or debris in the ear canal. It is also possible that your baby has hearing loss. To find out why your baby did not pass the screen, he will need additional testing. A complete hearing test will need to be given by an audiologist (hearing specialist) who works with infants. This hearing test should occur as soon as possible, but at least by three months of age. This diagnostic hearing test will determine what sounds your baby can and cannot hear.

 

HOW CAN MY BABY GET MORE HEARING TESTING?

Many hospitals will follow-up with an outpatient screening 1-3 weeks after discharge. If your baby has not already had an out-patient screening, ask if one can be arranged. If your baby does not pass the out-patient screening, or they are not available at your hospital, talk to your babys doctor. The hospital or doctor can refer you to an audiologist, a hearing specialist, for more testing. If you need help finding an audiologist, you can call (775) 688-0382 or check the online directory at www.ehdipals.org.

The audiologist can perform special diagnostic hearing tests to determine if your baby has a hearing loss. It is important that this testing occur as soon as possible and preferably before your baby is three months old.

If your baby has a hearing loss, the audiologist will be able to tell you the degree of hearing loss and what can be done to help. Some hearing losses are temporary and can be corrected with medical treatment. Others are more serious and will remain throughout your childs life.

 

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INFANT HEARING LOSS?

Hearing loss is the most frequent birth defect. It occurs in about 3 out of every 1000 babies born in the U.S. each year.

Many babies with hearing loss will startle or turn their heads to loud sounds. This does not mean the baby has normal hearing. Most babies with hearing loss can hear some sounds, but not hear well enough to develop normal speech and language.

The first months and years of a childs life are very important for developing communication. Children with undetected hearing loss are more likely to have difficulty developing language and may not do well in school. Even a mild hearing loss or hearing loss in only one ear has negative consequences if undetected. Before the advent of newborn hearing screening, research showed that children with hearing loss in one ear were ten times as likely to be held back in school compared to children with normal hearing.

This is why it is important to find out early if your baby has hearing loss. The only way to know for sure if your babys hearing is normal is to have his hearing retested with special equipment. If your baby has hearing loss, he will have the best chance for normal language development if he receives treatment by six months of age.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY BABY HAS HEARING LOSS?

The treatment or services depends on the nature and degree of your childs hearing loss. It is important that treatment begin as soon as possible. Recent research indicates that when children are identified with hearing loss early and receive services by six months old, they can develop language similar to hearing children.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA Part C) ensures that children with hearing loss receive free early intervention programs. Family-centered early intervention is recommended to promote language development and learning. Private pay programs designed for children with hearing loss may also be available in your area. For some children with hearing loss, intervention may include the use of hearing aids, cochlear implants, sign language and/or speech therapy. The audiologist, along with a team of other professionals, will evaluate your child and provide you with information on language and communication options, as well as recommend assistive devices and intervention programs.

 

Last Updated: 10/5/2015