One in every 350 babies is born deaf or hard of hearing in Minnesota each year (approximately 200 total). Nationally, CDC data show 1.4 out of every 1000 infants screened at birth (range 0-4.6 per 1000 screened) have some degree of hearing loss. This makes hearing loss one of the most common conditions present at birth. This prevalence rises to 5 per 1000 children with hearing loss by ages 3-17, due to children developing or identified with hearing loss later in childhood. The majority of babies who are deaf or hard of hearing are born to hearing parents and most often, they have no experience with hearing loss.
The degree of hearing loss is measured in decibels (dB). For children, a slight hearing loss ranges from 16-25 dB, a mild hearing loss ranges from 26 dB to 40 dB, moderate from 41 to 55 dB, moderately severe from 56 to 70, severe 71 to 90 dB, and a profound hearing loss > 90 dB HL. The degree of hearing loss can be the same or different in each ear.
A child with a mild high frequency hearing loss will have trouble hearing and understanding soft speech, speech from a distance, and speech with background noise. With moderate hearing loss the child will have difficulty with conversations even at close distances. An audiogram, which is a graph, illustrates the type, degree, and configuration of hearing loss. To understand more about audiograms, visit American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: The Audiogram.
Early intervention has a positive impact on language and child development. We know that children who do not receive early intervention services may have communication difficulties. These children may also face educational, psychological, and social challenges. This is why it is important to identify hearing loss as early as possible.
Minnesota's Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Program works to ensure that every baby who does not pass hearing screening has timely and appropriate follow-up. This includes an audiologic evaluation (hearing test) if needed. If a child is identified with hearing loss, Minnesota's EHDI program helps families access appropriate and timely intervention, statewide services, and needed resources.
For more information about hearing loss, visit Minnesota's Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Program. Other helpful information can be found at: CDC Hearing Loss in Children, Babyhearing.org, Minnesota Hands and Voices, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.