Newborn Hearing — Identifying Problems Early
South Carolina operates an early hearing detection and intervention program called First Sound. This is how it
- South Carolina hospitals that birth an average of 100 or more babies per year screen each newborn baby for
hearing and send the results to DHEC.
- Infants who do not pass the initial hearing screening in the hospital are referred for rescreening; this
should be performed by the time the infant is one month old. The rescreening may be done at the birth
hospital or at an audiologist's (hearing specialist) office.
- Whenever an infant does not pass the rescreening, we refer them/their family to a participating audiologist
for a diagnostic hearing evaluation; this should be performed before the baby is three months old.
- If the audiologist confirms hearing loss, we then refer the infant and their family to Babynet. This should be done by six
months of age. Babynet will work with the family to get the infant the hearing intervention services needed.
DHEC also tracks infants for three years if they pass their hospital screening but are at high risk for
developing hearing loss.
If your infant has not been screened for hearing loss or if you are a health care provider wishing to refer an
infant to First Sound, contact us at (803) 898-0708. Fax: 803-898-4453
Facts about Newborn Hearing Loss
- Hearing loss occurs in newborn infants more frequently than any other health condition for which newborn
infant screening is required. Studies show that hearing loss occurs in approximately 2-4 out of 1,000
- Hearing is vitally important to development of language skills. Infants begin developing speech and language
from the moment they are born. Eighty percent of the language ability of a child is established by the age
of 18 months.
- Without early hearing detection and intervention programs like First Sound, hearing loss is often not
identified until children are 18 months to 3 years of age.
- Children with hearing loss who do not receive early intervention and treatment may require extensive
(usually publicly funded) special education services.
- Early detection of hearing loss in a child and early intervention and treatment has been demonstrated to be
- Universal screening/detection of hearing loss in infants before three months of age, with appropriate
intervention no later than six months of age, is endorsed by the major speech-language-hearing associations
in the U.S. as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics. They also recommend that such screening be
performed in all birthing hospitals and coordinated by state departments of health.
How are infants screened?
Hearing tests can be performed while the baby is asleep or quiet and do not require the infant's participation.
Sounds (tones or clicks) are played through small earphones and responses to the sounds are automatically
measured by electrodes or a probe microphone. Tests are quick, painless, and non-invasive.
South Carolina Resources