Newborn Hearing Screenings

Deafness is not always easy to identify in young children. If there is a possibility that a newborn might be deaf, it is important to provide him or her with all the health, deaf education, and other help he or she might need from within and outside the deaf community. As everyone knows, deaf people can have children with average hearing, and parents with average hearing might have deaf children. Through newborn hearing screenings, it is possible to identify the potential level of deafness and the cause early. With treatment, it is possible to ensure that the child will retain residual hearing.

When is Newborn Hearing Screening Done?

Many deaf people in the deaf community have been partially or totally deaf from a very early age. For many years, it was difficult to screen for all of the potential causes of early hearing loss. Gradually, testing has become more precise and is able to pick up on some genetic cues and other signs of potential hearing issues. Every state in the United States provides some level of hearing screening for newborns, and in almost all cases, this is done before the infant leaves the hospital. When there is a known genetic issue that may cause greater risk, an audiologist may order a larger battery of tests.

A Warning From Deaf Culture: Hearing Loss at Birth is Common

About 2% of infants will be diagnosed with some level of hearing loss at birth. If a newborn does not respond as expected to a hearing exam that does not mean that he or she has a hearing disorder. If the test is conducted early enough, then various liquids from the birthing process might still be present in the child’s ear, making it unlikely that they will react to the test. If multiple tests suggest that there may be a problem, then a full diagnostic examination will be planned. The diagnostic exam gets much more data about the child. An audiologist will be able to determine the possible level of hearing loss.

Deaf Education and Other Deaf Culture Resources for Early Hearing Loss

The deaf community and deaf culture both place a high value on independence and making the most of life. Deaf people who have been living with hearing loss often find amazing ways to full and complete lives without perfect hearing. Even with only a small level of residual hearing, a child is able to adapt and can often learn to communicate very well with those in the hearing community. Based on the information from the diagnostic exam, a course of treatment or adaptations will be recommended. This can include things like auditory verbal therapy and other kinds of treatments with a certified therapist. These professionals are trained to help a child learn how to listen and communicate. As the child matures, sign language and other deaf education tools can also help.