Get your baby’s hearing screened

September 3, 2015 Providence Health Team

Your baby will be checked for a variety of health conditions soon after birth. Screening tests can help prevent serious problems as your baby gets older. One of these tests is a hearing test.

Why does my baby need to be screened for hearing?

Two or three out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born deaf or hard-of-hearing. It’s important to detect deafness or hearing loss as early as possible because children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing will need to learn speech and language differently.

What does hearing screening consists of?

Hearing screening involves two tests while your baby is asleep:

  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test
    This test shows whether parts of the ear respond to sound properly. A tiny, flexible plug will be inserted into your baby’s ear to measure reaction to the sounds that will be sent through the plug.
  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR) test
    This test will measure your baby’s brain activity in response to sounds. Wires will be attached to your baby’s scalp and clicking sounds will be sent through tiny earphones in the baby’s ears.

How long are these tests?

They both take only a few minutes.

When are these tests done?

They will be done before your baby leaves the hospital after birth.

If the tests find that there could be a problem with your baby’s hearing, further testing will be needed. Work with your baby’s health care provider for the needed follow-up tests as soon as possible. Because speech and language development begin at around 6 months old, it’s important to identify hearing loss as soon as possible so that treatment can begin.

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