The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states that most children hear and listen to sounds at birth. They learn to talk by imitating the sounds they hear around them and the voices of their parents and caregivers. But that’s not true for all children. In fact, about two or three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with detectable hearing loss in one or both ears. More lose hearing later during childhood. Children who have hearing loss may not learn speech and language as well as children who can hear. For this reason, it’s important to detect deafness or hearing loss as early as possible.
Because of the need for prompt identification of and intervention for childhood hearing loss, universal newborn hearing screening programs currently operate in all U.S. states and most U.S. territories. With help from the federal government, every state has established an Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program. As a result, more than 96 percent of babies have their hearing screened within 1 month of birth.
Why is it important to have my baby’s hearing screened early?
The most important time for a child to learn language is in the first 3 years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing. In fact, children begin learning speech and language in the first 6 months of life. Research suggests that children with hearing loss who get help early develop better language skills than those who don’t.