Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS)

Ohio law requires that all newborns have a hearing test (screening) before going home from the hospital. Hearing loss is the most common birth defect. In Ohio about 450 babies are born with hearing loss every year.

How the Screening is Done

Two simple tests can be done to screen your baby's hearing:

  • ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) - Three small patches are placed on your baby's head and neck. Small earmuffs are placed over the child’s ears and the baby hears soft sounds.
  • OAE (Otoacoustic Emissions) - Soft foam or rubber tips are placed in the baby's ears and the baby hears soft sounds.

What the Test Results Mean

  • Pass: This means hearing loss was not found at birth. A Pass result does not rule out future hearing problems.
  • Non-Pass/Refer: This means that further testing is needed to confirm your child’s hearing ability. If your baby gets a Non-Pass/Refer result, please do not be alarmed. Some babies are fussy during the screening. Or they may still have fluid in their ears from birth.

What Happens Next

If your baby needs another test, we will give you a list of audiologists in your area. Audiologists have had special training in hearing testing. If a hearing loss is found after further testing, there are programs to help you and your baby. These programs can help to promote and support your child's development.

Early Screening is Important

Screening for hearing loss is very important. Babies use their hearing to develop speech and language skills. Hearing loss that is not detected can have a major impact on a child. It can affect the child’s language, academic, social, and emotional development.

If you are concerned about your baby's hearing, speech or language please call your doctor. Ask for a hearing test by an audiologist. Your baby's hearing can be tested at any age.

To learn more about Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) or early childhood programs, please call 1-800-755-GROW (Help Me Grow).

Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) (PDF)

HH-III-110 Revised 11/12 Copyright 2007-2012, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000