My Baby Didn’t Pass the Newborn Hearing Test

What Do You Do if Your Baby Doesn't Pass the Newborn Hearing Screening?

Step 1: Follow Up Hearing Screening

When a baby fails the newborn hearing screening, it does NOT necessarily mean that he or she has a hearing loss. Between 2-10% of all babies screened in the U.S. do not pass their first hearing screening. Less than 1% will have a permanent hearing loss.

Some common reasons a newborn will fail the first hearing screening include: 

  • ​Vernix in the ear canal
  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Movement and/or crying during the test
Even though most babies will pass the follow-up hearing testing, it is VERY important complete all follow-up tests. This is the best way to be SURE about your baby's hearing.

Follow-up testing starts with one more screening similar to those used in the hospital. If a baby does not pass the follow-up screening, diagnostic testing is completed. Some hospitals or clinics may complete a diagnostic test at the time of follow-up, instead of re-screening.

If follow-up testing is done before a baby is 5 months old, all testing can be attempted while the baby sleeps naturally. For older babies, ABR testing is done under anesthesia. It is important that babies are quiet and still for both Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) and Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing.

Step 2: Early Childhood Hearing Interventions

If diagnostic testing shows that your baby has a hearing loss, it is important to begin early intervention services. This team of professionals will offer guidance and support to your family. Your Early Intervention Team should include:

  • Services Coordinator
  • Family-Infant Teacher
  • Speech-Language Pathologist 
  • Pediatric Audiologist
  • Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat/ENT Physician)
  • Pediatrician or Family Practitioner

Read more about what to do if your baby's screening reveals a possible hearing problem.

If your baby has a hearing loss, these professionals will be eager to provide support to your family. Their main goal will be to work as a team together with you to help your baby's development. It is important that services for your baby begin as soon as hearing loss is found.