Pediatric and Newborn Testing
At what age should my baby’s hearing be tested?
Your infant should have a hearing screening within the first month of life. Most hospitals conduct newborn hearing screenings implemented before you take your baby home. If there is a concern following the hearing screening results, diagnostic testing will be done in our facility, to confirm or rule out a hearing loss. If you are unclear whether your baby received a hearing screening, ask your doctor or the facility where your baby's records are.
How do you test a baby's hearing?
Two hearing tests are used to screen babies. Neither test requires an active response from your baby.
The first test is called an otoacoustic emissions (OAE). This test evaluates how portions of the ear respond to sound. An earphone is placed into your baby’s ear and sounds are presented at different pitches and a response from the ear, similar to an "echo" is measured. If it is not a measurable echo, it could indicate a hearing loss.
The second test is called an auditory brain stem response (ABR) test. This test evaluates how the part of the nerve carrying sound from the ear to the brain (the brainstem) is responding to different sounds. Earphones and electrodes are placed on your baby’s ears and around the head. The audiologist presents sounds through the earphones and measures the electrical activity in your child's brain that is responsible for responding to the presented sounds.
Why is it essential to have my baby's hearing screened as soon as possible?
Studies show the most important time frame for a child to learn language is during the first six months to three years of life. Children who are identified with a hearing loss and receive the appropriate intervention, acquire better language skills than those who do not. The sooner a hearing loss is identified, the faster your baby will benefit from strategies and technology that will assist him or her with communication.
How can I recognize hearing loss during early childhood?
Although newborn hearing screenings and follow up screenings are designed to identify hearing losses present at birth, some hearing losses do not develop until later in a child’s life. It is important to notice expected auditory milestones as your child grows.
Startles to loud noises, babbles/imitates sounds, coos and squeals for attention, responds to his or her name, understands some common words when used with gestures, like "bye, bye," and tries to say words like "ba ba," "ma, ma,” and “dada.”
Imitates simple words, uses two- and three-word phrases, such as "more milk," "all gone," "my turn" and understands "where is mommy/daddy?" and simple directions such as, "get your shoes". Two year olds understand more words than they can speak. A two-year-old understands approximately 300 words.
Can follow simple directions such as “time to take a bath” and "tell him your name,” can answer simple questions like “where’s daddy?” By age three, a child understands approximately 900 words and speaks 200 words clearly.
If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing for any reason, talk to your doctor.
If my child has a hearing loss, what can be done?
Many strategies and assistive devices are available for children who have a hearing loss. Technology is constantly changing and our audiologists can help you to determine which devices are most appropriate.