Hearing Health Foundation was instrumental in establishing Universal Newborn Hearing Screening legislation. In 1993, only 5 percent of newborns were tested at birth for hearing loss. By 2007, 94 percent of newborns were tested.
Left undetected, hearing impairments in infants can negatively impact speech and language acquisition, academic achievement, and social and emotional development. If detected, however, these negative impacts can be diminished and even eliminated through early intervention.
Because of this, all infants should be screened for hearing impairment, preferably prior to hospital discharge.
Hospitals can use two different types of newborn hearing screening tests. Both are safe and comfortable for your baby.
Otoacoustic Emissions Test
In the otoacoustic emissions test, a soft foam earphone and microphone are placed in the ear. Hearing specialists play various sounds, and measure the response.
If a baby hears normally, an echo is reflected back into the ear canal and is measured by the microphone. When a baby has a hearing loss, no echo can be measured.
Auditory Brainstem Response Test
For this test, hearing specialists play sounds to the baby's ears. Band-aid like electrodes are placed on the baby's head to detect responses. This test measures how the hearing nerve responds to sounds and can identify babies who have a hearing loss.
Both tests are reliable, and they can be used either separately or together.