Childhood Hearing Screening

The scope of this page is hearing screening for preschool and school-age children. For information on screening children ages 0–6 months of age, see Newborn Hearing Screening.

See the Screening section of the Hearing Loss (School-Age) Evidence Map for summaries of the available research on this topic.

A hearing screening is used to identify individuals who may require a more comprehensive hearing assessment and/or medical management. Hearing screenings for children may take place in early childhood settings, school settings, community settings, audiology clinics, medical settings, and/or home settings.

As of 2011, 97.9% of babies born in the United States were screened for hearing loss shortly after birth (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013). Minimal, frequency-specific, late-onset, or progressive hearing losses may not be identified during newborn hearing screenings (See Newborn Hearing Screening). By school age, close to 15% of children in the U.S. exhibit some level/type of hearing loss of at least 16 dB HL (Niskar et al., 1998).

Hearing screenings during childhood are vital for early identification and management of hearing loss. "Failure to detect congenital or acquired hearing loss in children may result in lifelong deficits in speech and language acquisition, poor academic performance, personal-social maladjustments, and emotional difficulties" (Harlor & Bower, 2009, p. 1253). Hearing loss does not have to be severe in order to impact a student's access to auditory-based classroom instruction. Educationally significant hearing loss can be unilateral, bilateral, minimal in degree, high frequency, or long-standing conductive. See Permanent Childhood Hearing Loss for more information.

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