Information for Parents and Caregivers
What is newborn hearing screening?
Newborn hearing screening is screening for hearing loss. All babies should be screened for hearing loss before 1 month of age. The screening is typically done before the baby leaves the birthing facility.
Why screen for hearing loss in newborns?
More than half of babies born with hearing problems are otherwise healthy and have no family history of hearing loss. If your baby has a hearing loss, you can still help your baby develop language skills. The sooner you act, the better the outcome. Screening for hearing loss as early as possible is important to your baby because:
- Early screening allows for early treatment, if hearing loss is detected
- Early treatment can provide earlier sound stimulation for your baby’s brain
How are hearing screenings done?
There are two types of hearing screenings for infants. Both are quick and safe.
- Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) tests the baby’s ability to hear soft sounds through earphones. Sensors are placed on the baby’s skin, which measures responses to sound at the level of the brainstem.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) measures an “echo” response to sound from the ear directly. Both tests are safe and your baby may sleep quietly through both types of hearing screenings.
What happens if a baby does not “pass” the screening?
There are many reasons why a baby may not “pass” the hearing screening. If this happens, a follow up test must be done to find out if the baby has hearing loss. It is important that you follow the recommendations given by your hospital screening staff, audiologist, and/or physician.
Can a baby “pass” the screening and still have hearing loss?
Although it doesn't happen very often, sometimes a baby can pass a hearing screening and still have hearing loss. Some infants have hearing loss that is not present at birth. These babies are born with normal hearing, but develop a hearing loss later. This may happen because of illness or because of some genetic condition. Hearing loss after the newborn period might also happen because of the use of certain medications or from an accident or disease.
If you have concerns about your child's responses to sound or his or her speech development, you should discuss this with your baby's doctor. Regardless of a baby's age, there are safe and accurate tests that can be used to measure how a baby hears.
What happens when an infant is diagnosed with hearing loss?
The next step is to enroll your child in an “Early Intervention” Program, which offers special services to support your child’s language development. You may be contacted by a person from Georgia PINES and Babies Can’t Wait (BCW). Georgia PINES offers an in home lesson where a specialist will talk to you about hearing loss and early intervention. BCW offers service coordination to help develop a plan to help your child reach their full potential.
Providing children the services they need helps their communication development, which gets them ready to learn to read and write like other children. Every child with hearing loss can achieve their fullest potential if they receive early intervention right away.
Georgia’s UNHSI program has developed a resource guide for parents of children with hearing loss. An online version of the book can be found here in English Georgia's Resource Guide for Families of Children with Hearing Loss and in Spanish: ¿HA ESCUCHADO?: La Guía de Recursos de Georgia para Familias con Niños con Disminución Auditiva.
Does Georgia have a loaner hearing aid bank?
Georgia’s UNHSI program has a loaner hearing aid bank, the Georgia Hearing Aid Loaner Bank (GA HALB). The GA HALB provides temporary hearing aid(s) for children who are in the process of getting their own hearing aid(s). The hearing aid(s) are loaned on a one time basis per child for 6 months and includes one earmold per hearing aid. The loaner hearing aid(s) do not cost money and are available to any child in Georgia birth to 36 months of age. If your child is in need of a temporary hearing aid, talk with your child’s audiologist or you can contact the UNHSI program at 404-657-5761.
In Georgia, are there any parent or family support organizations?