Purpose of Program
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.
What does the program do?
Along with the Newborn Metabolic Screening Program and Children 1st, the UNHSI Program maintains and supports a comprehensive, coordinated, statewide screening and referral system. UNHSI includes screening for hearing loss in the birthing hospital; referral of those who do not pass the hospital screening for rescreening; for newborns who do not pass the rescreening referral for diagnostic audiological evaluation; and, linkage to appropriate intervention for those babies diagnosed with hearing loss. Technical assistance and training about implementing and maintaining a quality newborn hearing screening program is provided to hospitals, primary care physicians, audiologists, early interventionists, and public health staff.
Why is the program important?
The most crucial period for language development is the first year of life. Without newborn screening, hearing loss is typically not identified until two years of age. Universal screening for all newborns prior to discharge from the hospital or birthing center is essential for the earliest possible identification of hearing loss and, consequently, for language, communication, educational and reading potential to be maximized.
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
Where are services located?
As of 2012, 86 of the 87 birthing facilities in Georgia are regularly screening newborns for hearing loss prior to hospital discharge.