Newborn Screening Information for Providers:
Hearing Screening Results
A “PASS” result means that the newborn exhibited normal hearing function in both ears at the time of the screen. Both ears must pass a single screening to be considered as an overall passing result. Combining passing results in opposite ears on successive screens does not constitute a passing result.
Since hearing loss can occur at any time throughout a person’s life, providers should continually monitor the following risk factors in all children who pass the newborn hearing screen:
- Family history of childhood hearing loss
- Exposure to infection before or after birth (e.g., cytomegalovirus or bacterial meningitis)
- Spending more than five days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
- Presence of other congenital and/or craniofacial anomalies
- Exposure to ototoxic medications
A “REFER” result means that the newborn did not pass the hearing screen in one or both ears. A REFER result does not definitively mean that the newborn has a hearing loss, but rather that additional testing is needed.
Because newborn hearing screening is not a diagnostic test, some newborns may receive a REFER result but later be found to have normal hearing. Although false positives do occur, it is crucial that all REFER results receive attention and appropriate follow-up in a timely manner. Like all screening tests, newborn hearing screening inherently generates false positive results in order to avoid missing infants with hearing loss.
Providers should take the following action for every REFER result:
- Review information from the hospital
- Initiate rescreening or referral for further evaluation by an audiologist
- Contact the family and encourage prompt follow-up
- If hearing loss is confirmed, refer to early intervention, parent support, and specialty services