Hearing loss occurs in newborns more often than any other regularly screened health condition. One to three babies out of 1,000 are born with some level of hearing loss. Newborns can distinguish language as early as six weeks of age. As early as six months of age, they can analyze and store language. Early detection and intervention before six months is important to a child's health and developing communication skills.
The goal in California is to screen all babies in neonatal intensive care units and 95% of babies in the Well Baby Nursery. Following the state's criteria, Cedars-Sinai is launching the Newborn Hearing Screening Program. We are currently screening all NICU babies, and when the Program becomes fully operational, we will be screening all babies in the Well Baby Nursery. For more information, please call (310) 423-0996.
Hearing loss cannot be easily detected by a regular doctor's exam. As a result, children are commonly diagnosed at two years of age. Even then, it averages another 8.3 months before intervention and training begins. Therefore, children have delays in speech, language, social, cognitive and emotional development.
Infants who are treated early (before six months of age) for hearing loss generally grow up with normal language comprehension and expression, as well as social development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing both endorse early detection by three months of age. The best time to do this is while newborns are still in the hospital, soon after birth.