Universal Newborn Hearing Screening

​​What is Universal Newborn Hearing Screening?

Universal Newborn Hearing Screening is a mandatory test to a check a baby's hearing after birth, before leaving the hospital.

  • All babies should have their hearing tested before they leave the hospital
  • If a baby is born at home, a hearing test should be completed before he or she is 1 month old.

When a baby fails the screening tests, he or she is referred for more detailed, diagnostic hearing testing. If a hearing loss is found, hearing aids or cochlear implants may be recommended and therapy services are initiated to help the baby learn to listen and speak.

Why is Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Important?

It is important to identify hearing loss as early as possible because babies start learning how to use sound as soon as they are born. Listening in the first months of life prepares babies to speak. These early steps are building blocks for communication.

  • Babies start by babbling, using many of the sounds they hear spoken around them
  • By their first birthday, babies are already learning what words mean and may be saying a few words 

Babies learn to talk by listening to their families talk around them. Imagine that a baby has a hearing loss, but no one knows about it. This can lead to slow development of speech and language, leading to problems in school later in life.

Hospitals regularly screen newborn babies for a number of conditions, such as genetic disorders. Hearing loss is more common than any other problems or conditions that are screened for at birth. About one to three babies out of every 1,000 will be born with a permanent hearing loss.