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Newborn Hearing Screening at Steward St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center 

Early detection of hearing loss is critical for maximizing the development of communication skills and the use of amplification. Research has shown that the earlier services are provided, the better the chance a hard of hearing infant has to reach their speech, communication and learning potential.

As part of the routine care in the nursery and in accordance with Massachusetts Law, all babies born at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center will have their hearing screened. The hearing screening is conducted in such a way that there is no pain or discomfort to your baby.

You will be informed of the results of your baby’s hearing screening before you leave the hospital. There are many variables that can affect the outcome of hearing screening. A pass in both ears indicates that hearing is adequate for the development of speech and language. The term refer is used to reflect that one or both ears need further testing to determine if hearing loss is present. If a follow up appointment is necessary please be sure to keep the appointment. 

Risk Factors for Hearing Loss

Below are factors that increase the chance of late onset-hearing loss. If your baby has been identified with any of these factors, the audiologists at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and your child's pediatrician should be informed to coordinate a plan to monitor hearing.

•    Family history of hearing present at birth
•    Severe jaundice
•    In-utero infection, CMV, herpes, rubella, syphilis, or toxoplasmosis
•    Low birth weight
•    Mechanical ventilation
•    Bacterial Meningitis
•    Low Apgar scores
•    Syndromes associated with hearing loss

Hearing and Speech Development Milestones

Below is a basic guide for normal hearing and speech development from birth to three years of age. If your baby’s progress does not match the milestones listed below, or if you suspect there is a problem, consult your baby’s doctor.

Birth to 3 Months                       
Recognizes and quiets to parent’s voice
Startles to loud noises

3 to 6 Months
Awakens to sounds or speech
Turns towards interesting sounds

6 to 12 Months
Understands first words such as “Da-Da,” and “Ma-Ma”
Responds to his or her name
Enjoys sounds from rattles and similar toys
Coos to music

12 to 18 Months
Says first words such as “Da-Da” and “Ma-Ma”
Responds to names of favorite toys by pointing to them when asked
Responds to sounds coming from far away

18 to 24 Months
Has a vocabulary of approximately 20 words
Speaks two word phrases
Understands simple “yes” and “no” questions
Refers to self by name

24 Months to 3 Years
Has a vocabulary of approximately 270 words by 24 months and 1,000 words by 3 years
Wants to speak to communicate needs, wants and experiences
Speaks simple sentences
Recognizes different sounds
Understands most of what is said to him or her