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Deafness and hearing loss

(DEF-nuhs • and • hearing • loss)

General Condition Information

Other Names

  • Congenital hearing loss
  • Deaf
  • Hard of hearing
  • Hearing
  • Hearing deficiency
  • Hearing impairment
  • Hearing loss
  • Hearing loss or varying hearing levels
  • Newborn hearing loss
  • Newborn hearing screening

Condition Type

Birth Prevalence

Screening Finding

“Fail” result in either ear (also called ”Refer”)

What is deafness and hearing loss

Deafness or hearing loss can be present at birth or develop as your baby grows. Hearing loss is a group of conditions that make it more difficult for your baby to hear and understand sounds. 

Hearing loss can be caused by a change in the ear or a change in the part of the brain that processes sounds. Your baby could have one of these changes or a mix of the two. 

Hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Your baby may be deaf or hard of hearing in one ear (unilateral) or both ears (bilateral). Their hearing may get better or worse over time (fluctuating) or stay the same over time (stable). The changes to their ears or brain lead to the signs and symptoms of this condition.

Any hearing loss that makes it difficult for babies to hear speech can affect language development and communication skills. It is important to find out if your baby is deaf or hard of hearing as early as possible.

While the term “hearing loss” is most commonly used by the health care system, it is important to understand that using the words “deaf” or “hard of hearing” is socially acceptable and often preferred. Often when children with hearing loss grow older, or as adults, they will identify themselves as “D/deaf” or “hard of hearing.” The Deaf community views the term “Deaf” as a positive word and includes any person who experiences life with a hearing loss.

Newborn Screening and Follow-Up

Condition Details

Treatment and Management

It is important to talk to your health care provider about available interventions for your baby. The goal of intervention is to allow babies who are deaf or hard of hearing develop language and learn how to communicate, either by improving their hearing or by providing other language and communication tools.

Opportunities may include one or more of the following:

Children who are deaf or hard of hearing and receive early and ongoing educational and audiological services have fewer developmental delays and develop better communication skills. All children can begin learning language at birth, so the sooner hearing loss is identified, the better the outcome for your child.

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