Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS)

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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

baby receiving hearing test

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

  • ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) - Three small stickers are put on your baby's head and neck.  Small earmuffs are placed over your baby’s ears and he or she will hear 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 worried.  A ‘non-pass/refer’ does not necessarily mean your baby has hearing loss.  A more detailed test may be needed.

What Happens Next

If your baby needs another test, the hospital will give you a list of audiologists in your  area.  Audiologists have had special training in hearing testing.   Call 614-722-6200 to schedule follow-up testing with an audiologist.

Early Screening is Important

Screening for hearing loss is very important.  Babies use their hearing to form speech and language skills.  Hearing loss that is not found 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 the 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 7/16 Copyright 2007-2012, Nationwide Children’s Hospital