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How is hearing tested in babies?

Oto-acoustic emissions (OAE) screenings are done by sending sound into the baby’s ear canal as a small microphone measures the response of the cochlea inside the ear. Some hospitals use another test, the automated auditory brainstem response test (AABR), which involves providing sound to the baby with earphones. Electrodes are placed on the baby’s skin to measure brainstem activity in response to the sound.

In Iowa, newborn hearing screening for hearing loss is usually done in the hospital shortly after birth. For babies born outside of the hospital, a family can take their baby to any local Area Education Agency, private audiologist or local hospital. You can learn from an audiologist about how newborn hearing screening is performed here. Contact Iowa Family Support Network (888-425-4371) for the locations nearest you. A hearing screen takes just a few minutes. It is safe and painless.

EHDI - Screening

EHDI - Diagnosis

If your newborn undergoes screening and does not pass the hearing screens, it is recommended he or she receives a diagnostic assessment before three months of age. A diagnostic assessment is a test to give you more information about the hearing abilities of your newborn. You can learn from an audiologist about how a diagnostic assessment is performed. Not all audiology providers are able to provide this test for young infants. Find an appropriate diagnostic audiology center near you by contacting the Iowa EHDI staff at (833) 496-8040. 

If your newborn has already received a diagnosis of a permanent hearing differences, you will receive the written results from your provider. There is a spectrum along which diagnosis could occur, from completely deaf to slightly hard-of-hearing to at-risk for hearing differences. Your understanding of your baby’s hearing differences and the services available to your baby and family will play an essential role in helping your child to succeed. We are here to help your family learn about hearing differences and where to go for support services.

EHDI - Intervention

After diagnostic testing shows that your baby has a hearing difference or is at-risk for hearing difference, it is important that conversations begin about intervention options. By intervening early, speech delays can be avoided. Early intervention is a system of services that helps babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities. Early intervention focuses on helping eligible babies and toddlers learn skills that typically develop during the first three years of life.

Iowa's early intervention system is called Early ACCESS. Early ACCESS works with families to identify child and family needs and coordinate services to meet those needs. Early intervention can make a difference. If you are interested in early intervention, refer to the Iowa Family Support Network's website below. Together, with the help of other parents of children with hearing differences, professionals and your family, you will work towards incorporating your child’s hearing differences into your everyday life.

Learn even more about early intervention:

Learn about 8 reasons to say "yes" to early intervention for your child who is Deaf or hard of hearing

Parent's Guide To Deaf and hard of hearing early intervention recommendations

Myths vs. Clinical Facts

Making decisions throughout the hearing screening process requires accurate information. Explore the common misconceptions surrounding hearing differences below.

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