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Frequently Asked Questions

My baby did not pass the hospital hearing screen, should I be concerned?

Hearing screens are meant to identify babies that need additional screening and/or testing to determine if a hearing loss is present. It is very important to get your baby screened again soon after he is discharged from the hospital.

Where do I go for the re-screen?

Your hospital nurse or your baby’s doctor can help you locate a local audiologist that can provide the re-screen or testing your baby needs. Some hospitals offer re-screens at their facility. If you are still unsure of where to go, you may call the UT Center on Deafness at 865-765-3586.

I received a letter that said I needed to take my baby for a re-screen. Who sent it?

The state’s Newborn Hearing Screening Program sends a letter to notify parents that their baby did not pass the hospital hearing screen and needs to go for a re-screen. Many parents already know this when they leave the hospital, but some do not. This letter is a reminder to those parents who may not have gotten clear instructions on how to go about getting a re-screen for their baby. Your baby’s doctor should also get the same letter. Bring up the need for a re-screen at your baby’s next well-child visit.

I have moved since my baby was born. Is this important?

Yes! If you have moved since your baby was born, the state’s Newborn Hearing Screening program does not have your updated information. Please call 615-532-8515 and share your updated information so our offices may assist you and communicate with you in the future about your baby’s hearing care, if needed.

What do the numbers 1-3-6 mean?

Each number stands for an age (in months). At each age, there are special recommendations that have been made for your baby’s hearing.

  • No later than one month of age: Your baby should have a newborn hearing screen.
  • No later than three months of age: If your baby did not pass the newborn hearing screen, he should have another hearing test by an audiologist. If the audiologist finds that your baby has a hearing loss, he or she should be seen by an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician as soon as possible for medical treatment and clearance for amplification. Amplification can be fit as early as one week after a hearing loss is diagnosed.
  • No later than six months of age: If your baby has a hearing loss, he should be enrolled in appropriate early intervention services.

Where did these recommendations originate?

These recommendations are considered national standards set forth by the following groups:

  • The Centers for Disease Control Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (CDC/EHDI) Program
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • The American Academy of Audiology (AAA)
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
  • The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH)

What is so important about these numbers?

There is a lot of research to support the early identification of hearing loss. If a baby’s hearing loss is confirmed by the time he is three months old AND he is enrolled in appropriate intervention services by six months old, he will have more opportunities to be a successful communicator.

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a healthcare professional who has been specially trained to test hearing. These professionals can also do things like fit hearing aids. It is important that an audiologist who has a background in working with children see your baby.


What is an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician?

An ENT physician, or otolaryngologist, is a doctor who specializes in problems of the ear. This physician can help determine the cause of your baby’s hearing loss, propose medical treatments for some types of hearing loss, and provide medical clearance for amplification.

Why can’t my baby’s pediatrician test her hearing?

Pediatricians sometimes have special equipment to screen a baby’s hearing, but not very often. If your pediatrician does have a hearing screening unit, she may conduct the re-screen in the office during your baby’s first well-child visit.  It is very important to understand that an ear exam (looking into the child’s ear) is not the same as a hearing screen. If your baby needs a re-screen, it is most likely that your pediatrician will refer your baby to an audiologist for this to be completed.

Is it easy to test a baby’s hearing?

It is surprisingly easy to test a baby’s hearing. In fact, newborns and very young infants are the easiest group of children to test because they usually sleep through the entire test.

How early can a baby be fit with amplification?

Babies can be fit with hearing aids as early as one week after they have been diagnosed. A child who needs a cochlear implant can receive it as early as 12 months of age. If your baby qualifies for a cochlear implant, she may wear hearing aids prior to receiving the implant.

What is early intervention?

Early intervention services are available to children in the state of Tennessee who have been identified with hearing loss. A program called Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) offers these services to children, from birth to three years old. The services may include home-based parent training and/or the coordination of speech-language, occupational, or physical therapies. Your baby must be enrolled in TEIS in order to receive these services-it is not automatic. Your pediatrician can refer you to TEIS or you can call 1-800-852-7157.

My baby is older than six months of age, and I’m worried she cannot hear well… Is it too late to get started?

Absolutely not. If you are concerned that your older infant or child has a hearing loss, ask your pediatrician to make a referral to an audiologist. The sooner you get her tested, the sooner you can get her help if she does have a hearing loss.

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