The scope of this page is hearing screening for children ages 0-6 months of age. Newborn screening is but one part of a comprehensive Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program of service.
Newborn hearing screening is the standard of care in hospitals nationwide. In 2011, 97.9% of babies born in the United States had their hearing screened in the first few weeks of life (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011). The primary purpose of newborn hearing screening is to identify newborns who are likely to have hearing loss and who require further evaluation. A secondary objective is to identify newborns with medical conditions that can cause late-onset hearing loss and to establish a plan for ongoing monitoring of their hearing status (Joint Committee on Infant Hearing [JCIH], 2007). Infants who do not pass the newborn hearing screening (and/or rescreening) are referred immediately for a comprehensive audiologic evaluation, with a goal of having hearing loss confirmed by 3 months of age.
Screening programs target permanent childhood hearing loss (PCHL) irrespective of type. However, various protocols are more effective at identifying different types and degrees of hearing loss within different populations (i.e., well-infant nursery [WIN] or neonatal intensive care unit [NICU)].
Passing a screening does not mean that a child has normal hearing across the frequency range. Because minimal and frequency-specific hearing losses are not targeted by newborn hearing screening programs, newborns with these losses may pass a hearing screen. Because these losses have the potential to interfere with the speech and psychoeducational development of children (Yoshinaga-Itano, DeConde Johnson, Carpenter, Stredler Brown, 2008), hearing, speech, and language milestones should receive ongoing surveillance and monitoring throughout childhood.
The content of this Portal page is based on ASHA's Expert Panel Recommendations on Newborn Hearing Screening.