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Maternal-Fetal Medicine

The National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that a hearing screening be done on every baby shortly after birth. WakeMed will be performing a hearing screening on every baby born at this hospital before they leave.

Six babies in every 1,000 are born with a hearing loss that affects speech and language development. Finding and treating hearing loss early is important in helping a hearingimpaired child develop speech and language. Hearing loss that is not found early can result in delayed language and can have a negative impact on social and emotional development and success in school.

To help your child’s language and learning — READ! Even infants enjoy and benefit from looking at simple, colorful books in your lap. By one year, sharing books together should be a daily routine. Children who are read to daily from an early age do better in school!

To learn more about the hearing screening, review this brochure. If you have any questions, please call 919-350-6032 and speak to the Hearing Screening Coordinator/Audiologist at WakeMed.

Why is it important for me to know about my baby’s hearing now?

Babies learn by listening. If a baby can’t hear, the baby’s speech and language will not develop normally. Because babies can’t tell us that they cannot hear, a hearing loss can go unnoticed.

The most important years for a baby’s speech and language development are from birth to 3 years of age. By finding a hearing loss early, we can give the child special attention earlier.

How is my baby’s hearing screened?

We use an ALGO machine that is based on the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test. This is very accurate and is used as a standard for newborn hearing screenings. The ALGO sends thousands of soft clicking sounds to your baby’s ear. Each click causes a response from a special area of your baby’s brain called the “auditory brainstem.” Sensors on the baby’s skin pick up these responses and send them back to the ALGO. The ALGO then analyzes the responses from your baby.

How long does the screening take?

The screening takes about 15 minutes.

Does the screening hurt my baby?

No, most babies sleep through the screening.

Where is the screening done?

The screening is done in the newborn nursery.

Who does the screening?

A trained WakeMed staff member or volunteer does the hearing screening. An audiologist oversees the Infant Hearing Screening Program.

When will I receive the test results?

Immediately following your baby’s hearing screening, written notification of the results will be placed in your baby’s crib or given directly to you. A “Pass” result means that your baby’s hearing is normal at this time. A “Refer” result means that we need to do further testing and does not necessarily mean that your baby has a hearing loss.

Can I, as the parent, choose not to have my baby screened?

Yes, and a member of our staff will ask you to sign a form saying that you do not want to have your baby’s hearing screened. Talk with your baby’s doctor if you have questions.

Hearing Milestones for Your Baby 

Birth to 3 months
  • Startles or jumps when there is a sudden loud sound
  • Stirs, wakes or cries when someone talks or makes a noise
  • Recognizes your voice and quiets when you speak
  • Makes “coo” and “aaah” sounds
3 to 6 months 
  • Turns eyes toward interesting sounds
  • Appears to listen
  • Usually awakens when sleeping quietly and someone makes a noise or talks
6 to 12 months 
  • Notices and looks toward interesting sounds
  • Understands “no,” “bye-bye” and his/her name
  • Begins to imitate speech sounds
  • Enjoys rattles and other sound-making toys primarily for their sound - not the visual appearance
12 months 
  • Says first words such as “Da-Da,” “Ma-Ma” and “bye-bye”
18 to 24 months
  • “Sings” and hums spontaneously
  • Has a vocabulary of approximately 20 words