Children's Health and Wellness

Hearing Loss in Babies

Picture of a hospital nursery

Although most babies can hear normally, 1 to 3 out of every 1000 babies are born with some degree of hearing loss.  However, without screening or testing, hearing loss may not be noticed until the baby is more than one year old. If hearing loss is not detected until later years, there will not be stimulation of the brain's hearing centers. This can affect the maturation and development of hearing, and can delay speech and language. Social and emotional development and success in school may also be affected. Many of the complications of hearing loss can be prevented with diagnosis and treatment before 6 months of age.

Most hearing loss is congenital (present at birth), but some babies develop hearing loss after they are born. Hearing loss is more likely in premature babies and babies with respiratory problems who have required long-term use of breathing machines, those with previous infections, and those taking certain medications.

Because of these risks, many health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Audiology, now recommend universal infant hearing screening. This means all newborn babies should be screened for hearing loss. Most often, the parents are the first to detect hearing loss in their child.

Print Source: Up To Date. Screening the Newborn for Hearing Loss
Online Source: American Acadmey of Pediatrics. Facts on Infant Hearing Losshttp://ndaap.org/hearing.htm
Online Source: American Acadmey of Audiology. Statement of Endorsementhttp://www.audiology.org/resources/documentlibrary/Documents/JCIH_PositionStatement_2013.pdf
Online Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What's Your Baby's Hearing Screening Result? http://www.cdc.gov/Features/NewbornHearing/
Online Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hearing Loss in Children, Factshttp://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/facts.html
Online Source: American Acadmey of Pediatrics. Purpose of Newborn Hearing Screeninghttp://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Purpose-of-Newborn-Hearing-Screening.aspx
Online Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. It's Important to Have Your Baby's Hearing Screenedhttp://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/screened.aspx
Online Editor: Metzger, Geri K.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/24/2012
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