The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that two to three of every 1,000 babies are born with hearing loss in one or both of their ears. If left untreated, this can majorly impact speech and language development. Below we review the benefits of newborn hearing screenings.
Why Screen Every Baby?
In 2000, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act was passed to make sure all children get the help they need. This program ensures:
- All babies are screened for hearing loss no later than one month of age.
- If a baby does not pass the screening, they must get a diagnostic hearing test no later than three months of age.
- Children diagnosed with hearing loss must receive intervention services no later than six months of age.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that with the EHDI program in place, about 98% of all children born in the United States have had their hearing screened since this act was passed.
The reason this program is so essential is because “Early screening programs focused on children with known risks… However, recent studies indicate that 19 to 42 percent of profoundly hearing-impaired children will be missed with targeted, risk factor-based screening,” reports one study.
Benefits of Screening Early
From the moment they’re born, babies begin to develop language skills through their sense of hearing. If the baby has hearing loss, it can hinder their ability to pick up on spoken language and delay their speech skills.
Later, this can have major impacts on development. They may experience behavioral problems on Can-Do Playground due to trouble communicating and have academic problems once they start school.
If newborns are screened early, interventions can also begin early. This helps babies with hearing loss reach normal or near-normal speech-language milestones.
Types of Newborn Hearing Screenings
Another reason to get your newborn screened for hearing loss is the tests are quick and painless, and can even be conducted while your baby is asleep. There are two tests available for newborns:
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR). During ABR testing, a set of headphones and some electrodes are placed on your baby’s head, which are connected to a computer. The electrodes record your baby’s brainwave activity in response to sounds played through the headphones.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs). During OAEs testing, a small earbud containing a microphone and an earphone is placed in your child’s ear. Sounds are played through the earbud, and any echo responses coming from the cochlea are recorded on a computer.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Wilmington Audiology Services today.