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Your baby’s hearing screening

What to expect with an initial audiology test

Why do I need to know about my baby’s hearing now?

Because babies learn to speak by listening, children who do not hear normally do not develop speech and language normally. Birth to 3 years of age are the most important years for the development of speech and language. Finding hearing loss early allows us to help language development as well as social, emotional and academic development.

How do I find out about my baby’s hearing?

A trained technician will do an evoked otoacoustic emissions screening on your baby in your room. A soft probe will be placed at the opening of your baby’s ear to examine the echoes that the ear makes as it sends sound to the brain. The testing is painless and typically takes about 10 minutes. In fact, most babies sleep through the entire test.

When will I know the results?

You’ll be notified of the results at the time of testing. The results also will be sent to your baby’s physician.

What does a “pass” or “refer” test result mean?

The ears are tested separately. A “pass” indicates that both ears have tested normal. A “refer” indicates that more testing is needed for one or both ears.

What happens next if the test result is “refer”?

Your baby will receive an ABR screen in a hearing screening room. The ABR measures the change in brain wave activity that occurs when the baby hears a sound. If a “refer” is present on the ABR screen, hearing levels are outside the normal range. The most common reason for a baby not to pass is because of debris in the ear canal. A follow-up screening will be scheduled in the next three to four weeks.

How do we get a follow-up hearing screening done? 

The staff member screening your baby will set up a return date and time to have your baby’s hearing rechecked.

What happens if my baby does not pass the follow-up screening?

If the baby continues to show a “refer” result at the follow-up screen, further testing will be done. A diagnostic ABR may be performed to confirm the type and exact amount of the hearing loss. If needed, management and early intervention will be discussed.

What can I do if a hearing loss is present?

Seeing a medical ear specialist may be needed. If your baby requires hearing aids, this will generally need to be done before 6 months of age.

What if the hearing screening was not completed prior to dismissal?

You will need to bring your baby in for outpatient testing. Please call 316.268.8100 to schedule the appointment. Kansas law requires testing by 5 days of age. Testing is done in Audiology at the Via Christi Hospital on North St. Francis. Hearing impairment is the most common birth defect. An undetected and untreated hearing loss can place your child at great risk for permanent delays in speech and language. The sooner the loss is identified, the better chance your child has to develop normal speech and language.

What if I have questions about the hearing screening?

The audiologist will be happy to answer any questions about the hearing screening process or about the newborn hearing screening program. Call 316.268.8200 and ask to speak to an audiologist.You also can visit with your infant’s physician about the testing.