In America, every state has a newborn hearing screening. More than 95% of newborns undergo a hearing test in their very first month. This is important considering that one to three babies out of every 1,000 babies will have some level of hearing loss.

What exactly is a hearing test?

Types of Hearing Tests

Hearing tests are performed at hospitals or birthing centers. They take around five to ten minutes and can even be administered while your newborn is fast asleep. There are two types of hearing screenings.

1) Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR or ABR)

This test measures how your baby’s hearing nerve and brain reacts to sound. In this test, your baby will have electrodes placed on their forehead and right behind their ear. After soft earbuds are gently inserted in your baby’s ears, your newborn will have clicks or tones played into them.

2) Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)

In this test, your pediatrician will place earbuds into your newborn’s ears and play soft sounds. To measure if your baby’s ears are working properly, the pediatrician will measure the “echo back” or response. This will work if there is no fluid in your newborn’s ears.

What Does “Referring” Mean?

Referring means that the information obtained from the test is not reliable enough to indicate whether or not your baby has hearing loss. Factors that lead to referring include:

  • Noisiness in the room
  • Fluid in your baby’s external or middle ear space
  • Your baby moved too much during the test

If your child refers during the second test, your pediatrician will recommend a full hearing test with a pediatric audiologist.

What is Sleep ABR?

If your baby undergoes a full hearing test, they will be tested again while they are sleeping. This must happen before they’re three months old.

What Happens if Hearing Loss is Detected?

If hearing loss is confirmed in your child’s hearing screenings, your doctor will discuss treatment and possibly early intervention with you.

Has your newborn had hearing screening yet? If not, request an appointment at Pediatrix.