Newborn Hearing Screening Frequently Asked Questions

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What is newborn hearing screening? Doctor and young child.

Newborn hearing screening is a painless test done to your baby to check his or her hearing. After your baby’s birth, your baby will receive a hearing screening unless you decide not to have the test. Most birthing facilities provide the screening before you go home. If you choose to have your baby at home or in a birthing center that does not participate in hearing screening, they will refer you to a certified program to schedule your baby’s hearing screening.

What should I do if I don’t know if my baby had a hearing screening at the birthing facility?

Contact the birthing facility to find out whether your baby was screened. Each family should be offered a hearing screening for the baby. Each facility has a person who is the program manager for newborn hearing screening. Ask to speak to that person.

Check discharge paperwork for hearing screening results. You should know the results of the testing before you and your baby leave the birthing facility, and you should have a copy of the results. If you have problems with the above, contact the TEHDI Coordinator at tedhi@dshs.state.tx.us or call 512.776.7726. (Use relay option of your choice to call, if needed).

What if I am going to have (or had) my baby at home?

You can have your baby screened by a local audiologist. Select the region on the map where you live. The facilities are in alphabetical order by city and there is a note that lets you know the ages of the children the audiologist is able to test. Another option is a birthing facility with a certified newborn hearing screening program, many of these facilities will provide your infant with the hearing screening. Be sure to ask about charges for a hearing screening for a newborn. 

Why is it important that newborns get screened?

Two to three babies born daily in Texas are hard of hearing or deaf. Research shows that the primary window for stimulation of the auditory neural pathways in the brain is from birth to six months. Failure to identify hearing issues prior to six months of age impacts the development of language and learning potential, creating a developmental emergency.

How much does it cost?

Medicaid and most private health insurance plans cover the costs of the birth hearing screening and any resulting testing until the infant is 24 months of age. There are a few instances of insurance carriers being exempt from the Texas statute requiring the service to be covered.

If you are interested in learning more about public assistance, contact Medicaid for eligibility requirements and enrollment instructions at 1-800-252-8263 or TexCare Children’s Medicaid (CHIP) at 1-800-647-6558. Use relay option of your choice to call if needed.

Where do I get the hearing screening done?

After the baby’s birth, he or she will receive a hearing screening unless you decide not to have the test. Most birthing facilities provide the screening before you go home. If you choose to have your baby at home or in a birthing center that does not participate in hearing screening, they will refer you to a certified program to schedule your baby’s hearing screening. 

Does it hurt?

The hearing screening is painless and takes only a few minutes, usually while your baby sleeps.

How is the hearing screening done?

Licensed birthing facility programs choose one of two objective test methods, or a combination of both Screening/Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) testing or Transient or Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) testing. Screening typically occurs 10-12 hours after birth when the fluid in the middle ear space and the debris in the ear canal have cleared. Both methods are highly effective, are performed quickly, do not cause discomfort, and can be done while the baby is sleeping. Read more about AABR and OAE testing.

What if my baby does not pass the hearing screening?

A “Did Not Pass” means the baby needs another hearing screening. This result does not mean the baby has a hearing loss. Some things that may cause a baby not to pass the first time are birth fluid in the ear, an ear infection, or a baby who is crying or active during the hearing test. A follow-up hearing screening appointment should be completed within the first month of the baby’s life. If the baby does not pass the follow-up hearing screening, then further diagnostic testing will need to be done.

How many babies do not pass the hearing screening?

About two percent (2%) of babies who receive a newborn hearing screening at birth do not pass.

Where can I get additional information?

Read our Additional Information about Newborn Hearing Screening page to learn more about next steps if you baby does not pass the hearing screenings, information about the Texas hearing screening law, the Texas Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (TEHDI) program, resources, and other useful information.

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Last updated August 01, 2014