If you’ve ever seen a newborn, you’ll likely agree that they look pretty perfect – tiny fingers and toes with little wrinkles all in the right places, blemish-free skin, fine hair, and beautiful eyes that touch your heart. Inside all that outward perfection, however, there could be some imperfections lurking – things like hearing impairments that aren’t visible to the naked eye. This is why an infant hearing test is so important.
What is an infant hearing test
Babies themselves are nothing short of a miracle. How they start out as a tiny embryo and end up as a mini version of yourself in your arms in the delivery room is mind-boggling. It’s also amazing how they’re born with everything they need … or at least they are most of the time. Sometimes, genetic or environmental factors play a role in not giving newborns what they need. This is when modern healthcare can be a huge benefit – we can discover what’s missing, how to treat it, and the baby can then progress from there.
old days, parents often did not even know that their baby had a hearing problem
until much later. Now, infants can undergo hearing
screening before they even leave the hospital. Depending on the test
performed, potential problems with the nerves responsible for hearing can be
identified, or abnormalities in how the ear processes sound can be found. Both
are useful in determining whether or not an infant has hearing loss or other
Why are infant hearing tests important?
Healthy hearing is
important for the proper growth and development of any child. Your baby will
start to learn as soon as it’s born, and being able to hear well will help it detect
and interpret various environmental stimuli. These are then used in the
development of speech and language. Studies have shown that when hearing
impairments are not identified and treated before 6 months of age, children
will encounter speech and language problems later on in development. Infant
hearing testing helps these impairments be discovered before they can negatively affect other
areas of development.
What types of hearing tests are available
Unlike some medical procedures, infant hearing tests are quick and painless. In many cases, the baby even sleeps through the entire procedure. There are two main types of an infant hearing test available:
Brainstem Response (ABR) – This measures the functioning of the
nerves responsible for hearing. Sound is played through soft headphones in the
baby’s ears and a series of three electrodes attached to her head measure the
nerves’ response to the sound.
- Oto-acoustic Emissions (OAE) – This test measures the
function of the cochlea and how it produces and responds to sound. Small probes
are inserted into the infant’s ear canals. When sound is played, the probes
measure the cochlea’s response, giving the doctor clues to the status of the
What do I do if my newborn fails her
purpose of newborn hearing testing is to identify any hearing abnormalities
early on so that they can be addressed. Sometimes, however, the results are
inconclusive or incorrect. Test results can be misleading if the testing room
was noisy, if the infant moved too much or had fluid in her ears during the
test, or if the testing equipment didn’t fit well.
If any abnormalities are discovered during the newborn infant testing, schedule an appointment with an audiologist as soon as possible. This hearing professional will do a further hearing evaluation, if necessary, and determine whether or not your child does, in fact, have hearing loss or other impairment. Once a final determination is made, the cause of hearing loss can often be found and treated. Possible treatment options include assistive listening devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, or treatment for another medical condition that may be causing the hearing problem.
The bottom line is that hearing is important for the normal development of your child. If you or your baby’s doctor suspect any hearing impairments, it’s important for them to have an infant hearing test right away, to get any potential hearing loss identified and treated early.
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