Most babies hear well right from birth, but about .02 percent of the general population of newborns, and 2-4 percent of babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) have less than perfect hearing, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Infants born in hospitals are routinely screened for hearing. It’s important to identify poor hearing as soon as possible, since babies rely on hearing to develop speech/language, social and thinking skills.

An infant hearing screening is safe, does not hurt, and takes about 10 minutes. Most babies sleep through the screening. Occasionally a second screening is needed because there was temporary fluid in the ear, there was a lot of noise in the room, or baby was moving a lot. Typically the re-screening shows normal hearing.

As a child grows, their hearing should be checked at each well child visit. Tell your child’s doctor about any concerns with your little one’s ability to respond to or imitate sounds and words. If a toddler or preschooler shows signs of poor hearing, an audiologist should be consulted.

With the recent outbreak of measles, it’s important to know that a side effect of measles can be permanent hearing loss. (See