Many babies with hearing loss will react to loud sounds. The only way to know if your baby's hearing is normal is to have the screening done with special equipment.
Before you leave the hospital, be sure you know the results of your baby's hearing screening and your next steps.
Why is hearing screening important?
- Hearing loss is one of the most common newborn conditions.
- Most babies with hearing loss have no signs or symptoms.
- Your baby's first three years are the most important for learning language and how to communicate.
- You need to know if your newborn has a hearing loss to get the help your baby needs. If hearing loss is found early, your child will have the best chance to learn the skills needed to be ready for school.
How is hearing screening done?
- Your baby will be screened for hearing loss in the hospital soon after birth.
- The screening takes 10 to 15 minutes if the baby is quiet or asleep.
- The screening is done with special equipment, is safe and does not hurt.
If your baby passes the screening…
Passing means that your baby's hearing was in the normal range during the screening. Hearing loss can develop after you leave the hospital. It's important to check your baby's hearing and communication development during the first year.
If your baby does not pass the screening…
Before 1 month of age: Make an appointment to come back to the hospital for an outpatient hearing screen within one to two weeks after birth. If your baby was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for more than five days or has a risk factor, talk to your baby's doctor. Make the outpatient appointment with a pediatric audiologist as soon as possible.
Before 3 months of age: Make sure your baby has been tested by a pediatric audiologist by 3 months of age.
Before 6 months of age: If a hearing loss is confirmed, your baby should be enrolled in an early intervention program by 6 months of age.
Is my baby at risk for hearing loss?
Yes, if your baby has one or more of the following risk factors or conditions at birth:
- Stayed in the NICU for more than five days.
- Had an infection before or after birth such as cytomegalovirus, herpes, rubella or meningitis.
- Has a family member with hearing loss from birth or childhood
Babies at risk can pass a hearing screening at birth, but will need more testing later. Talk with your baby's doctor and make an appointment with a pediatric audiologist or hearing specialist for further testing.
Milestones chart: Check your baby's hearing, speech, and language development
By 2 months of age, a baby with normal hearing should be able to:
- Quiet when hearing a familiar voice.
- Make sounds like ahh and ohh.
By 4 months of age, a baby with normal hearing should be able to:
- Look for sounds with his/her eyes.
- Make sounds like squeals, whimpers or chuckles.
By 6 months of age, a baby with normal hearing should be able to:
- Turn his head toward a sound.
- Make sounds like ba-ba, ma-ma, da-da.
By 9 months of age, a baby with normal hearing should be able to:
- Imitate speech sounds made by others.
- Understand no-no or bye-bye.
- Turn his/her head toward a soft sound.
By 12 months of age, a baby with normal hearing should be able to:
- Correctly use ma-ma or da-da.
- Respond to singing or music.
- A baby with mild hearing loss may also be able to do these things.
If you have any questions or concerns, talk with your baby's doctor.
Resources for more information about the newborn hearing screening program
Arizona Department of Health Services Office of Newborn Screening
Arizona Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (EHDI)
Call: 602-364-1409 or 800-548-8381 (within Arizona).
Deaf or hard of hearing: Call 711 for AZ Relay Service.
Source: Arizona Department of Health Services Office of Newborn Screening Arizona Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program