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September Spotlight on Infant Hearing Screening

September 3, 2003

More babies are born in August than any other time of the year, so remember to have your newborn's hearing screened. With new screening laws or guidelines in many states many more infants are being screened. Screening is only the first part of a three-step commitment to good communication for a baby who has hearing loss or is deaf and a two-step commitment for infants who are born with normal hearing.

Infant Hearing Screening Process:

  1. SCREEN (for information)
  2. KNOW (get a diagnosis by 3 months)
  3. PROVIDE appropriate intervention for language development for baby who has a hearing loss or is deaf

You can read about infant screening on the NIDCD Web site:

You can also read about newborn or infant hearing loss on the following NIDCD-supported sites:

What about the baby with normal hearing at birth?
Children who are born with normal hearing need to be watched for signs of late-onset or progressive hearing loss. Minimal hearing loss also is an important factor in school success and psychosocial development. Nearly 15 percent of children have a low-frequency or high-frequency hearing loss. The process for babies without hearing loss at birth is:

  1. SCREEN (for information)
  2. OBSERVE (for changes in communication and need for a test for late-onset loss)

What can professionals do to help improve follow-up of infants with a hearing problem?

Facts about hearing loss:

  • An estimated 28 million people in the United States are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Some 1,465,000 individuals aged 3 years or older are deaf in both ears.
  • Newer estimates indicate that 2 to 3 infants per 1,000 are born with hearing loss.
  • These data do not include children who are born with normal hearing but have late-onset or progressive hearing loss. Hearing loss often is sufficient to prevent the spontaneous development of spoken language. Earliest possible identification of infant hearing loss has been endorsed widely as critical for the developing child.

Note: Facts and statistical information taken from the Healthy People 2010 web site.

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Last Updated Date: 
September 3, 2003