Newborn Hearing Screenings were developed to assist in quickly and effectively diagnosing hearing loss present at birth. Catching hearing loss at an early age and enrolling a child in early intervention maximizes communication, literacy, and social-emotional development.
The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) set forth guidelines for early hearing detection and intervention programs in 2007 to ensure all newborns are screened for hearing loss to implement intervention early enough to keep children with hearing loss developing in line with their hearing peers. The guidelines are referred to as “The 1-3-6 Plan,” meaning a child’s hearing is screened by the time they are one month old, any potential hearing loss is diagnosed by the time they are three months old, and amplification and intervention services are implemented by the time they are six months old.
By 1 Month
• Obtain a newborn hearing screening in the hospital or by your pediatrician.
• Hearing screenings are non-invasive and typically last only a few minutes. Small earphones and sensors are placed on your baby. The earphones and sensors send information to a computer that measures your baby's hearing.
• It is a pass/fail screening.
• An infant may fail a hearing screening for several reasons.
-They have hearing loss, which can be permanent or temporary depending on the cause of the hearing loss. Some hearing losses are caused by genetics, an infection.
-They have residual fluid in their ear canals from birth, obstructing the sound from traveling through their auditory system.
-They are too active for the response to be accurately recorded.
By 3 Months
•A diagnostic hearing evaluation should be performed by an audiologist if your child failed the newborn hearing screening.
•If this evaluation results in a diagnosis of hearing loss, these are the next steps:
-An immediate referral to the Missouri First Steps early intervention program will be made.
-An Ear, Nose, & Throat (ENT) physician evaluation will be scheduled.
-An assessment for amplification (hearing aid) will be scheduled within one month of diagnosis.
• There are many causes of hearing loss at birth. Some hearing loss is temporary and can be easily corrected. Other hearing loss is permanent. Hearing loss in newborns can be caused by an infection the mother has during pregnancy or by your baby's medical complications. Hearing loss may also run in a family.
By 6 Months
• Begin early intervention services including working with a professional or team to set communication and developmental goals for your child. This team may also be helpful in connecting you with family resource groups, which will allow you and your child to be integrated into the hearing loss community.
• Work with your audiologist as you and your child adjust to daily hearing aid use.
Any infant with hearing loss, whether it is in one ear or both, no matter the severity of the hearing loss, is eligible for early intervention services. The goal of this system is to be family-centered. Informed choice, shared decision making, and parental consent are the highest priorities when it comes to communication between professionals and the family of the child diagnosed with hearing loss. These children will be monitored throughout their development to ensure milestones are being appropriately met and the families have the resources they need to support this development.