Newborn hearing screening is a component of the newborn screening program mandated by the  State of Kansas. It is also required before attending public school. In the first month of life, all infants are to be screened for congenital hearing loss by a hearing specialist or audiologist. You will be given information where to take your baby when you come in to sign the birth certificate.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that 2 or 3 out of every thousand children in the US are born deaf or hard of hearing. The purpose of early screening is to ensure that all babies with suspected hearing loss have the opportunity to benefit from early intervention that could support development of language skills.

The initial newborn hearing screen is called an otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test and can show whether parts of the ear respond properly to sound. During this test, a sponge earphone is placed into the ear canal. The ear is stimulated with sound, and the “echo” is measured. The echo is found in everyone who hears normally. If there is no echo, it could indicate a hearing loss.

This test is routinely performed prior to discharge on babies born in hospital.  For babies born at home, parents can find a physician or audiologist located near them through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment: Newborn Hearing Screening Program – Sound Beginnings for this free screening.