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Routine screening of newborns for hearing loss, which is required in most states, has helped thousands of babies each year by getting them hearing aids and other treatments early, giving them a better chance of developing speech.

But many pediatric hearing experts worry the flip side to newborn screening is that children with auditory neuropathy, who make up a sizable minority of the 12,000 babies born each year with hearing loss, get swept into the much larger group of children with typical hearing loss.