Babies learn by listening. The most important years for speech and
language development are from birth to three years of age. Since babies
cannot tell us that they cannot hear, a hearing loss can go unnoticed.
If a child is unable to hear normally, speech and language may not
develop normally. Hearing problems are the most common birth defect. Six
out of 1000 babies are born with some type of hearing problem, but it's
one of the most treatable birth defects. Finding hearing loss early
helps to give your child the special attention needed to develop
language skills. It also aids in social, emotional, and educational
Trained staff members of the hospital use a procedure called
Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR). The screener sends sounds
through small earphones, which are placed over each ear. Small sensors are attached to your baby's skin to detect your baby's brain response to the sounds s/he hears. The screener analyses the brain response and the results are either a Pass or
Refer. The test is usually done in the mother's room.
What does Pass/Refer mean? A result of Pass can be an indication of
normal hearing. A Refer means additional testing is needed. Many things
can cause this result and it doesn't mean there is a problem. Since this
is only a screening, it may not identify very mild hearing loss.
An audiologist oversees the hospital's newborn hearing screen program
and is available for consultation to answer any questions or concerns.
You may also discuss any questions with your pediatrician or you may
call the Children's Special Health Services Helpline at 1-800-737-3028
or you may call a state-affiliated agency called Beginnings at