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Hearing Loss in Babies

A newborn baby sleeping, wrapped in a blanket.

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.



© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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