Newborn Son Is Failing Hearing Screen

Updated on April 23, 2009
J.L. asks from Minneapolis, MN
11 answers

I had a baby on March 17. My other 2 children are 10 and 12 and since they were born they have added the newborn hearing scdreen at the hospital. My son failed it three, times. He received a referral for both ears to an audiologist. today is appointment #2 for yet anothwer round of tests. he continues to have no response in his left ear and only partial response in his right. he startles at nouses, turns towards voices, coos already and seems fine....buut I know that hearing loss is a very real possibility. how did others in this situation cope> fear of the unknown and all. thanks!!

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answers from Grand Forks on

My son was born this April 8th and failed the hearing test several times. Due to the family history of hearing loss, (I have 50% hearing loss both ears) some genetic, my husband and I have set up an appointment with an audiologist in another week. We know he does respond to some noise, but there are other times that he has completely been unresponsive to "a phone ringing next to his ear". Hope everything goes ok. Hang in there.

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answers from Madison on

I think it's wonderful that they check for both seeing and hearing tests these days. Knowing as early as possible that there is a problem that needs to be addressed is nice, because then it can be taken care of.

My parents were always upset with me when I was growing up, saying I never listened to them. Well, turns out that when I was in my mid-20s, I had problems with my right ear that ended up with my needing to have a permanent T-tube placed, as my eustachian tube was damaged (most likely from a sinus cold, as I had a lot of those then). A hearing test also revealed that I have a 10% hearing loss in both ears. It is a "nerve loss," from what the doctor tells me, and is from birth (meaning it didn't manifest from an infection or something, like the problem with the tube in my right ear did). I am still having trouble with my right ear, and am slowly losing more hearing in that ear.

It would have made things easier for me when I was a youngster if we'd have known about the hearing loss. It makes sense now, when I think about it, that I had trouble with pronouncing certain words. These days, my husband and daughter cannot walk in front of me and talk, nor can they turn away from me and talk, as I have trouble hearing them (it has to do with the range of where the sounds are that I can't hear).

My fear is that, as I get older, I'll continue to lose hearing and will eventually need to learn sign language. I don't mind learning sign language, but I'll miss giving up hearing, if it comes to that, only because I've had hearing in my life. A child born without hasn't had a chance to miss something that he hasn't had. I rely on my husband and daughter to tell me when timers in the kitchen have gone off, and my dog is wonderful at alerting me to visitors. Only problem I have is being able to hear the phone ringing if I'm not nearby. Oh, well.

I pray you find out for sure what your little one's hearing range is; take comfort in knowing that there are terrific resources out there to help. One wonderful idea is to see if you can get him into a baby dance program for deaf or hard of hearing. He'll learn movement and rhythm from the floor vibrations.

There is a dance troupe from China that is made up entirely of deaf dancers; I watched them dance on a "Tube" video, and their dance is absolutely spectacular. In fact, they danced at the 2000 Olympics. I cried as I watched it, knowing these young people were doing a beautiful dance, completely synched with the music--and they couldn't hear the music. But boy, could they pour their heart and soul into their dance. They dance by watching prompters on the side of the stage and feeling the music vibrations through the floor. It's one of the best dances I've seen in a long time.



answers from Minneapolis on

J. - my daughter did not fail the hospital hearing test - but at her 6 month dr apt, the dr dropped her keys and my daughter didn't notice. She was alarmed and tested a few things and she didn't startle and I called her name, she didn't look. At home we then noticed, she didn't startle and only seemed to respond to our other daughter's voice. We had a few hearing tests - elctodes, etc that were not invasive - she was able to sleep so she didn't need to be sedated. Those tests determined, one ear was "OK" the other had hearing loss - it was scrambled. They basically said to wait and see what happens as you don't know how people will respond to the hearing loss until it comes times to talk, etc. My sister was working for a chiropractor at the time, and he asked how she was born. She was born facing my inner thigh vs face down. He said the hearing loss could be due to the neck being out from not being born "normal". So we took her (I am not a person who goes to the chiropractor) and it was very simple and easy and the immediate difference was amazing. While I know hearing loss is a real issue - I'd just like to throw my story out there. Best of luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

My son, who was born in October, had the exact same thing happen. We were pretty freaked out. As it turns out, he had a lot of amniotic fluid in his ears and it took about 2 1/2 months to really dry out. The other problem we ran into with the tests is that it has to be SUPER quiet and they have to be asleep. Well, my son is the noisiest sleeper I have ever seen. He couldn't hear the noises because he was breathing too loudly. I would suggest the appointments, but space them out just in case he isn't dry yet. And if he is responding to noise, DON'T WORRY. More than likely, he will be fine!



answers from Davenport on

As an audiologist, I feel that I need to say something. I am also a mother of a 19 month old son. My husband and I both have significant hearing losses, so we were very nervous about the hearing test results, but he did pass. I agree with you there is the fear of the unknown. Regarding the hearing test your baby had done at the hospital, it can give false negative results, hence the reason for repeating the test. This is because there can be things in the ear canal from birth (vernix), the technician who does the hearing testing can have the probe put in the ear incorrectly, noise in the room where the testing is conducted...there are several things. I do strongly encourage you to keep up with the testing. Startling to noise, turning to voices, is a good sign that there is some hearing, just need to measure how much. I also feel that I need to say soemthing regarding another post that was made in response to this. The other test that the mother was talking about is not invasive. Yes, it can require sedation and many people are uncomfortable with that (understandably). I'm not exactly sure what she meant by it being invasive, but it would require electrodes to be placed on several spots of the head and earphones put in the ears (to me, that's not me, cutting someone open is invasive). I really hope I didn't step on any toes here, but I just felt that as an audiologist I needed to say something. If you'd like, I'd be willing to talk with you privately regarding any questions you may have.

Take care...



answers from Cedar Rapids on

Hi J.,

My little girl, who is now 2, also failed her hearing tests. I was so sad about it at first but am lucky enough to have several doctors in the family who told me not to worry because these tests are notoriously unreliable. Apparently a babies ear canal is so small that it's really hard to get an accurate read on them until they are older. Lilli had several rounds of tests during the first year and at one point, they wanted to put her under and do a more invasive test to pinpoint the severity of the hearing loss. I was not comfortable with such an invasive procedure so I never scheduled doctor was fine with this decision. We have continued to watch her as she develops and I am convinced that she has no hearing loss (or VERY little). As a baby, she always reacted to noise and never showed any signs of hearing loss and her speech has developed normally. I know that I made the right decision for me in taking the diagnosis as informational and something to watch and I'm glad that I did not subject her to any further testing. When she gets a little bit older and can communicate with us even better, we will have her hearing tested again just to make sure all is OK. Hope this helps...good luck to you!




answers from Green Bay on


I agree completly with the audiologist. The first responder really has no idea what she is talking about and if she had done a little research she would have realized what this test is about. Our daughter failed her hosptial screening two times before being released from the hospital. We took her back one week later and she still failed. We then had an appointment with an EMT (ear, nose, throat doctor) to make sure that there wasn't fluid build up. There wasn't. So the next step was to go to an audiologist. Long story short we had the test done that the previous audiologist wrote to you about. - An ABR, and an abnormal otoacousitc emission testing. - If I remember correctly she was around 9 months old when we had the test. They did have to sedate her and the electrodes just read what the brain waves were sending to the ear canal and basically could give us a definitive answer as to the severity of her hearing loss. We found at that time that her left ear had a 50% hearing loss and the right was ok. For us we felt the need of knowing what we were dealing with was more important than to just wait till she was older. If your child has possible hearing loss in both ears I would definately have the test done. It was over and done within an hour and not at all painful on the child and they will have no memory of it at all. Currently our daughter is almost 5 and will be going to Kindergarden this fall. She will be getting a hearing aid in about two weeks which we hope will get her ready for school in the fall. She would probably get by ok without one since she has one "good" ear but as parents I want to give her the best chance for her to susceed. You would be surprised at how many people I have run into when discussing my childs hearing loss that have told me they have some hearing loss and that they did have issues at times in school but that they "got by". So we could just let things go and not push for the hearing aid but I just feel like I wouldn't be doing what is best for my daughter. I guess in the end my best advice is get informed on your options and do what feels right for you. But don't be afraid to get that test done. I think knowing and then dealing with the outcome is better than denying there is an issue, especially if two ears are possibly not working properly. You want to get things corrected right away to avoid any speach issues down the road.

Feel free to email me back as well. I have done quite a bit of research myself and talked to lots of people. I would really be honored to be able to support you any way I could since I know what you are going through.

Take care,



answers from Milwaukee on

My 1st son failed several rounds of the hearing tests before we took him home from the hospital, then we returned after he was discharged for another test and he failed again. Finally we were referred to a clinic and he passed that test the first time. The hospital tests are not reliable.



answers from Iowa City on

Congratulations on your baby! There are different levels of hearing loss, as I'm sure you are aware. Both my children did not have auditory issues, however, I did begin teaching them ASL (American Sign Language) at a very early age. It brought down their frustration level because children's motor skills develop more quickly than their verbal skills. There is also the Choclear Implant; if the Doctor's say your child is a good candidate. The truth of the matter, the Deaf and hard of hearing community has some wonderful information. Don't be afraid to contact an association in your community and understand, if your child does have hearing issues, there is an abundance of information out there along with a wonderfully full life. Good luck and God Bless



answers from Des Moines on

Our son was born in October & failed his hearing test several times. We finally ended up at the AEA in our area in December and they tested him. After a few rounds, he finally passed (without referring). I had a c-section with him. I've heard that babies that aren't born naturally don't get all the "stuff" squeezed out of them, including in their ears. I just assumed that's what had happened with our son. Also, the AEA have a little bit more sensitive equipment than what the nurses at our hospital had. It may just be a matter of checking it periodically. It was a little scary at first, but it was a couple of months before we got any results. Good luck -- keep trying!



answers from Bismarck on

My background is in Deaf Education and I agree with previous posters that the hearing tests on babies are not always accurate. It is very important to continue to have your child's hearing assessed because if it turns out that he has a hearing loss then the sooner he is fitted for hearing aids or receives other services (whether it is sign language, speech therapy, or other)the better as far as developing speech and language. You asked how people cope with this suggestion would be to research and read about hearing loss. If you know anyone in the Deaf Community connect with them. They are a wonderful resource. If you don't know of anyone in the Deaf Community or live in a small community (where there likely isn't a Deaf Community) then you could connect with a teacher of the deaf through your local school or early childhood program. They should be able to give you lots of information and resources. They might also be able to connect you to others in similar situations. I haven't worked in Deaf Education since 2003 but if you wish to contact me, I will answer your questions as best I can. Best of luck.

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