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Hearing Screening

The Oklahoma State Department of Health Child Guidance clinics provides comprehensive hearing screenings for children from birth through 18 years of age. 

The Newborn Born Hearing Screening (NBHS) is conducted at birth to identify children who may have a hearing loss and need further testing.

There are two screening methods used; Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) and Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (A-ABR). Both methods are quick and simple methods that don't require a behavioral response.

Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) screening measures sound waves produced in a child's inner ear. A tiny probe is placed just inside the ear canal, where it measures the ear's response (echo) when clicks or tones are played in the child's ears. This test can be used for newborns, but also works for older children. Children may be awake, but must be quiet and still. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the newborn hearing screenings required in all 50 states. And because a child's hearing can change over time, we also recommend yearly hearing screenings for children aged 4 through 6, followed by additional screening at ages 8 and 10. Adolescents and teens should receive at least 3 hearing screenings to detect any changes that might affect language, academics and social well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

You might wonder about the need for formal screening, since your infant may startle, blink or turn their head in response to different sounds. Many newborns react this way but still have trouble hearing well enough to learn spoken language. Because your child learns to speak by listening and processing what they hear, hearing concerns that go undetected can affect the early learning and language development that lays a foundation for success in school and life.

Newborn hearing screening is pain-free and takes around 5 to 10 minutes to complete. The screening may be done while your baby is sleeping or lying still.

If your baby's screening test falls outside the typical range, a repeat screen may be recommended. If the repeat screen shows concerns, follow-up testing with a hearing professional should be done as soon as possible—but no later than 3 months of age.

All children need routine hearing tests, since hearing can change significantly as kids grow.

Common causes of childhood hearing changes include:

The AAP recommends that all kids have hearing tests at ages 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 years, with additional screenings between ages 11-14, 15-17 and 18-21. These screenings can diagnose hearing changes at the earliest possible stage, when interventions can have the greatest positive impact.

Keep in mind that hearing changes can be very gradual, making them hard to notice at first. Consistent screening helps assure that issues are not overlooked so your child receives the care and support that will help them thrive.

Hearing at home: Signs to watch for in your child

Parents, caregivers and other family members are often the first to spot changes in a child's hearing. Even if your newborn's hearing screen shows no concerns, talk with your pediatrician if you notice that your child:

  • Doesn't startle at loud noises
  • Doesn't turn toward sounds
  • Is slow to begin talking or is hard to understand
  • Can't say single words such as "dada" or "mama" by 12 to 15 months
  • Is slow to sit or walk without support
  • Has trouble holding their head steady
  • Doesn't notice you until they see you
  • Focuses on vibrating noises more than other sounds
  • Shows no enjoyment or pleasure when you read to them
  • Doesn't always respond when called, especially from another room
  • Appears to hear some sounds, but misses others
  • Wants music or TV volume on louder than other family members

American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright @ 2023)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

In addition to not passing a newborn hearing screening, here are other signs of possible hearing loss in your child:

  • Has a risk factor for hearing loss
  • Has a history of ear infections
  • Does not startle at loud noises
  • Does not turn to the source of a sound after 6 months of age
  • Seems to hear some sounds but not others
  • Does not say single words, such as "dada" or "mama" by 1 year of age
  • Speech and language is delayed
  • Does not follow directions
  • Often says, "Huh?" and turns up TV loud

Any hearing loss can affect your child's ability to develop speech, language and social skills.  

If your child does not pass the hearing screening, we will recommend you follow up with your pediatrician for a complete hearing test by a certified audiologist. 

Contact your local Child Guidance clinic to schedule a hearing screening.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Allied Health Service
Child Guidance Program
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave., Suite 1702
Oklahoma City, OK 73102-6406

Physical Location (appointments required):
Oklahoma State Department of Health
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

Phone: (405) 426-8100

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