Why the need to test newborn hearing?

by Carter Toni

Delivering a baby is a proud and cherishable moment in every woman’s life. It is possible to check your newborn baby’s hearing even before you get released from the hospital. Some hospitals provide hearing screening facilities for babies. OAE (Otoacoustic Emissions) or AABR (Automated Auditory Brainstem Response) or even both are used to test the baby’s hearing. Generally, babies are tested for their hearing either in the mother’s room or in their nursery while in hospital.

Hearing screening for 1 month old baby

You do not have to worry about hearing screening of your baby as it is a simple and painless procedure. During the screening process, babies are mostly found to be fast asleep. Also screening requires just about a couple of minutes. At times, screening is repeated as the baby is in hospital or after leaving it.

The audiologist tests babies who fail the hearing screening test. This medical professional is adequately trained to carry out test hearing on babies. They will also carry out additional testing to identify if the baby enjoys clear hearing or suffers from hearing loss. They may perform various types of hearing tests to identify hearing loss issues in the baby including how much and what type.

Babies failing to clear the first hearing screening test are to undergo another complete hearing test. This should be conducted before they are of three months.

Why require early hearing screening of your baby?

Doing so will enable you to know if your baby is able to hear properly or not. In case, he/she suffers from hearing loss, then the doctor will prescribe appropriate treatments starting before the baby turn 6 years old. Thus, the baby will be able to perform the following:

  • Perform well in school and other activities.
  • Communicate easily and effortlessly with others.
  • Make friends.

Babies suffering from hearing loss are to be provided with intervention services before they reach 6 months.

Types of intervention services

The doctors may prescribe different types of resources and intervention services for children as well as their families. The intervention offered could be the following:

  • Working along with a professional to help the child and family to learn the right ways to communicate with one another.
  • Consulting a professional trained to work along with children suffering from hearing loss including their families.
  • Other available resources for children suffering from hearing loss including their families.
  • Joining different family support groups.
  • Fitting a hearing device on the baby’s ears like hearing aid.

Hearing loss testing techniques

  • Re-screening: Rescreening is essential for babies failing the initial hearing screening test. This should be done after 1-2 weeks or avail complete hearing test. You can get recommendation of a good hospital to get the test done by your baby’s doctor, hospital or medical home. Babies failing to pass the initial hearing or re-screening test are to have complete hearing test just before they touch three months.
  • Testing: Audiology evaluation (complete hearing test) is to be performed by an experienced audiologist (expert) well-trained to conduct the baby’s hearing test. The audiologist treating children at times is referred to as ‘paediatric audiologist’.

What tests are conducted in audiology evaluation?

Audiology evaluation comprises of several tests. A few tests that the audiologist might conduct are:

  • Tests to measure response of the ear to sounds.
  • Test that will help the audiologist to determine how the baby’s middle and external ears are functioning.
  • Test to determine how response of the ear nerve to sound.

The qualified audiologist is likely to ask several questions pertaining to the baby’s birth history, hearing loss faced by any family member, ear infection and hearing ability of the baby.

Newborn hearing test results and what is specified by the audiologist gets examined together to come to a conclusion. The audiologist on taking your permission shares the results with your paediatric doctor including an ENT doctor, also referred to as the Otolaryngologist. They will work together to understand your baby’s situation and will provide appropriate recommendations. Perhaps, another test will be required by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor), along with a geneticist, a doctor trained to understand about genes.

Hearing loss suffered by children

Children as well as infants do have unique talents and special personality. Every child is unique and so is their hearing loss. The child’s hearing loss is likely to be somewhat different when compared to other child’s hearing problems. Studies conducted have revealed that approximately 30% of children suffering from hearing loss are likely to require more than one special need. It could be something that has nothing in common with hearing or the ear. It includes physical, visual and other special requirements. Discuss such conditions with your paediatric doctor. These factors when considered will help you to determine an appropriate intervention program to suit your child’s needs and strengths.

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