Hearing Screenings

Also known as EHDI (Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program)

Why should I have my baby's hearing screened?

A child learns to speak by listening to sounds. This happens as soon as a baby is born. If a baby has hearing loss of any amount, identifying it before 6 months of age is the key for that child to develop typical language abilities at the age of 3 years. If the hearing loss is identified after 6 months, by 3 years old the child will have half the language ability as a peer.

What happens at a hearing screening?

In Iowa, newborns receive a hearing screening while they are still in the hospital. Typically this occurs in the middle of the night and the newborn sleeps through the test. There are two types of tests used to screen a child's hearing:

  • Automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) – Band-aid like electrodes are placed on the baby's head to detect responses. Sounds (soft clicking) are played in the baby's ears. The test measures how the hearing nerve responds to sounds and can identify babies who have hearing loss.
  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) – A miniature earphone and microphone are placed in the ear, sounds are played and a response is measured. If a baby hears normally, an echo is reflected back in the ear canal and measured by the microphone. When a baby has a hearing loss, no echo can be measured.

Request a hearing screening for my child

Visit the Iowa Department of Public Health's EHDI website for articles, help and information for hearing support in Iowa.

Last Updated: Nov 20, 2017