Hearing Loss in Babies

Hearing Loss in Babies

Picture of a hospital nursery

Before your newborn leaves the
hospital or birthing center, he or she needs to have a hearing test. This is a painless and
short test. It will be explained to you before it is done. You should get the test results
before you take your baby home. 

Most babies can hear normally. But 1
to 3 out of every 1,000 babies are born with some level of hearing loss. Without screening
or testing, hearing loss may not be noticed until the baby is more than 1 year old. If
hearing loss is not found until later years, the brain’s hearing centers won’t be
stimulated. This can affect a child’s hearing development. It can also delay speech and
language. Social and emotional development and success in school may also be affected. Many
hearing loss complications can be prevented with diagnosis and treatment before 6 months
old.

Most hearing loss is present at birth
(congenital). But some babies develop hearing loss after they are born. Hearing loss is
more likely to occur in babies who:

  • Are premature
  • Have respiratory problems and used breathing machines for a long
    time
  • Had past infections
  • Are taking certain medicines

Because of these risks, experts
recommend that all newborn babies be screened for hearing loss. Most often, parents are the
first to find hearing loss in their child.