Newborn hearing screening

Legislative rules and state and national guidance about hearing screening

Newborn hearing screening in Colorado

Newborn hearing screening is one part of newborn screening. Colorado law says every newborn’s hearing should be screened if the family consents. A baby's ability to hear impacts their development of language even before they are able to speak.
It is important to test babies before they are one month old so they can benefit from different ways to learn language.

General information about hearing screening and diagnosis can be found at the CDC’s website for screening and diagnosis of hearing loss.

Who does the newborn hearing screen?

  • Screenings may be done at various participating locations in your area. Providers may include:
    • Hospitals which provide delivery services and newborn care.
    • Midwives and birth centers.
    • Primary care and family physician offices.
    • School districts.
    • Other community agencies.
  • Midwives and birth centers are required to either do the newborn hearing screen or tell parents where to get one done.
  • Private insurance and Medicaid often cover newborn hearing screening.
    • If you have insurance, check with your carrier to learn about what the cost may be to have your baby’s hearing screened.
  • If your newborn hasn't been screened, find out where you can take your baby by calling us at: 303-692-2603 or emailing the Newborn Hearing Screening Coordinator at: leanne.glenn@state.co.us.

What happens if a baby does not pass the newborn hearing screen?

The hearing screen result is entered in a database at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Approved providers may view training materials, videos and user information in the How To Guide for Colorado’s state database, the HIDS/NBH application.  The baby will be scheduled for a more extensive test of hearing done by a pediatric audiologist.

What happens if hearing loss (or hearing difference) is confirmed?

  1. The baby's doctor will refer the child to a pediatric ear specialist.
  2. The next step after a confirmed diagnosis is a referral to early intervention services. 

Some state resources for free therapy for children under 3 who are deaf or hard of hearing include:

  • The Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind runs the Colorado Home Intervention Program (CHIP), a collaborative model of early intervention services,  designed specifically to provide services for families who have children who are Deaf and hard of hearing, ages newborn to three years old. 
  • The Colorado Hearing Resource (CO-Hear) Coordinators are trained professionals in this program who work with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and their families. The CO-Hear Coordinator is knowledgeable about state and local systems specific to young children with varied hearing levels. These include Early Intervention (EI) Colorado, Local Early Intervention Programs, Child Find, and resources within the family’s community. The CO-Hear Coordinators work closely with agencies and organizations to support the individualized needs of each family. 
  • Early Intervention Colorado, which provides developmental supports and services to families with children birth through 2 years of age who have developmental needs.

Families may also be referred to a parent support organization, which provides families with the resources, networks and information they need to improve communication access and educational outcomes for their children. These may include support organizations for families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing: 

Congenital CMV and Hearing Loss

A viral infection called congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) is the most common cause of non-genetic pediatric hearing loss. cCMV in a newborn accounts for 20% of all hearing loss detected at birth and 25% of all hearing loss by age 4. Any child who does not pass a newborn hearing screen should be screened for cCMV using urine or saliva before 3 weeks of age.

cCMV is acquired when a mother has CMV during pregnancy and passes it to her baby in utero. CMV is spread through contact with body fluids, such as urine, saliva, or through sexual contact. See the resources below for more information. 
For more information about preventing CMV, please refer to AAP-CO & Project Firstline: Preventing CMV (4 minute video).

Interested providers working in child care and school settings can find additional information about preventing CMV infection on page 38 of the guidelines for Infectious Diseases in Child Care and School Settings.

If you get CMV while pregnant, this virus can pass to a developing fetus and can result in stillbirth, hearing loss, developmental problems and other health issues for the baby. 

Learn more about cCMV at: