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Patient education: Screening for hearing loss in newborns (The Basics)

Patient education: Screening for hearing loss in newborns (The Basics)

Why does my newborn need to be screened for hearing loss? — Screening is important because the sooner you know your baby has a hearing problem, the sooner they can get help. This will make it less likely that the hearing loss will cause problems with learning to talk

How will my newborn be screened for hearing loss? — There are 2 different tests for hearing loss in newborns:

Auditory brainstem response – For this test, the doctor will put 3 small devices called electrodes on your baby: on the forehead, back of the neck, and behind the ear. The electrodes connect to a machine that measures how your baby's brain responds to a clicking sound.

Otoacoustic emissions – For this test, the doctor puts a small microphone into your baby's ear. The microphone makes sounds (clicks or a tone) and measures sound waves from the cochlea, the area inside the ear that allows you to hear (figure 1).

Both of these tests are painless and take between 5 to 15 minutes. If a test suggests that your newborn has hearing loss, they will get another test. Your baby might also need to be checked by an expert in hearing problems, called an "audiologist."

Are some newborns more likely to have hearing loss? — Yes. Newborns with certain conditions are more likely to have hearing loss. These conditions include:

Being in the "neonatal intensive care unit" (also called the "NICU") for more than 2 days. Newborns spend time in the NICU if they are born too early or have other health problems.

A family history of hearing loss in childhood or other conditions that cause hearing problems

An abnormal shape to 1 or both ears

Infections

A serious form of a condition called "jaundice" that causes yellow skin and other problems

More on this topic

Patient education: When a baby is born premature (The Basics)
Patient education: What to expect in the NICU (The Basics)
Patient education: Jaundice in babies (The Basics)

Patient education: Jaundice in newborn infants (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 03, 2022.
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