What is universal newborn hearing screening?

  • Universal newborn hearing screening is a statewide screening program established to identify infants with hearing loss as soon as possible following birth. Most children are screened before discharge from the birth hospital.
  • In 1999, the Utah legislation was passed that requires all births in the state to be screened for hearing. Utah is one of 37 states with universal newborn hearing screening legislation.
  • Hearing loss is the most common birth defect in Utah. About 1 out of 300 infants is born with a permanent hearing loss.

Why is universal newborn hearing screening important?

  • Prior to universal newborn hearing screening, the average age at which children were identified with hearing loss was 30 months.
  • Late identification of hearing loss can lead to speech, language, and cognitive delays.
  • Research has indicated if a child receives appropriate intervention for hearing loss early in life, the likelihood of delay decreases significantly.

How are newborns screened for hearing?

There are two types of newborn hearing screening procedures.

  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test.
  • Automated Auditory Brainstem Response test.

What can a parent do if their infant does not pass the screening?

Contact the hospital your baby was born at and arrange a second screening or talk to your primary care provider.

When should a parent be concerned about their child’s hearing?

  • The child’s language development is delayed or her speech is unclear
  • The child must turn up the volume on the television
  • The child often says “huh?” or “what?”
  • The child does not respond to her name

Where can parents get more information?

  • Call the hospital where your baby was born.
  • Call Utah Department of Health Hearing, Speech & Vision Services at 1-800-829-8200