What Do The Results Mean
If the hearing screening shows a clear response from both of your babys ears, its unlikely that your baby has hearing loss.
Some babies need to have a second test to achieve a clear result. A refer result requires the hearing screen to be repeated within a few weeks. It doesnt necessarily mean that your baby has a hearing problem.
The initial screen result can be affected by:
- fluid or other substances that have got into the ear canal during birth
- temporary middle ear fluid
- the area where the screen takes place is too noisy, or your baby is too restless
It is very hard to tell how well a young baby can hear by watching their behaviour so it is important that the hearing screen is repeated.
If your baby doesnt pass the second hearing test, they will be referred to a paediatric audiologist to test if they have a hearing problem.
The audiologist will see your baby as soon as possible if they do not pass the follow-up hearing screen in both ears. If your baby passes the hearing screen in only 1 ear, the audiologist will see your baby at about 2 to 3 months of age, or sooner if possible.
The audiologist will do a full hearing assessment. If there is a hearing problem, the tests will also show whether it’s likely to be temporary or permanent and your child will receive appropriate treatment and support.
Testing In Older Children And Adults
In older children and adults testing mainly uses a technique called pure tone audiometry. This uses a machine called an audiometer to play a series of tones through headphones. The tones vary in pitch and loudness .
The health professional conducting the test will control the volume of a tone and reduce its loudness until you can no longer hear it. Then the tone will become louder until you can hear it again. You signal by raising your hand or pressing a button every time you hear a tone, even if the tone you hear is very faint. The health professional will then repeat the test several times, using a higher-pitched tone each time. Each ear is tested separately.
The results of the test are plotted on a special graph called an audiogram which helps to show the pattern of any hearing loss.
How Does Nbs Happen
Newborn screening has three different parts:
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Interpretation Of The Test Result
Hearing is measured in Decibels Hearing Level . For an OAE test, the range of 30 Db HL is considered the upper limit. If a newborn fares more than 30 Db HL, it is assumed that some hearing loss is present.
An AABR is a screening test and does not evaluate the degree of hearing loss in a child. It has a pass/fail approach where the computer sensor gives out one of the two results based on its calculations.
If An Infant Does Not Pass A Hearing Screen In The Hospital What Happens Next
Most hospital screening programs will refer infants who failed the initial screening test to a secondary center that specializes in more complete testing for diagnosis.
- Sometimes, simple problems, such as too much residual amniotic fluid and vernix in the ear canal, will resolve prior to the rescreen and the infant will pass the second test.
- The rescreen is an important step in determining whether the infant is able to hear, so it should not be taken lightly.
- If an infant does not pass the rescreen, then a full diagnostic test will be necessary.
- This test may be completed at the rescreen site or at another facility, depending on several factors.
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What Does The Screening Involve
A trained hearing screener carries out the hearing screening test. Two main tests are done to screen a newborn:
ABR The tester attaches leads to your baby’s forehead, back of their neck and behind their shoulder, using sticky pads. Small earphone ‘cups’ are then placed over the baby’s ears. The earphones make soft clicking sounds and the leads measure the response from your baby’s ears.
OAE A small soft-tipped earpiece is placed in the outer part of your baby’s ear, which sends clicking sounds down the ear. When an ear receives sound, the inner part, known as the cochlea, usually produces an echo. The screening equipment can pick up a response.
These tests only take a few minutes and do not hurt your baby. The hearing screening test will usually be done while your baby is asleep or settled. You can stay with your baby while the screening test is done.
Why Is Early Screening So Important
The push for early hearing screening is critical since babies learn by being immersed in the world around them. And being able to hear is an essential component for building speech skills.
Catching potential hearing loss early allows you to work with your babys care team on solutions. This makes it more likely your baby wont fall behind developmentally.
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What The Results Mean
Donât be alarmed if your newborn doesnât pass their hearing test. Some babies with normal hearing donât pass this first screening. There are many reasons why this may happen:
- The test was given in a noisy room.
- The person giving the test didnât have enough experience.
- The earphones or probes didnât fit into your babyâs ears well.
- Your baby moved around too much during the test.
- There was fluid in your babyâs ears when they were tested.
If your child didnât have a normal hearing test, theyâll need to see a special hearing doctor, called an audiologist, before theyâre 3 months old. When you take them to see this doctor, theyâll take follow-up tests to see if thereâs really a hearing problem. If there is, the doctor will find out whatâs causing the problem and how much hearing loss your baby has. Sometimes, the doctor may send you to an ear-nose-throat specialist for your babyâs treatment.
In 1993 Only 5% Of Newborns Were Tested At Birth For Hearing Loss By 1997 94% Were Tested Before Leaving The Hospital And Today 97% Of Babies Are Screened Before They Leave The Hospital
Of babies who have their hearing tested, 1.6% do not pass.
Of those who do not pass the hearing screening, 69% are diagnosed with having hearing loss before 3 months of age.
Today, almost all hospitals and birthing centers throughout the U.S. screen newborns for hearing loss. New parents should talk to their doctors to make sure a hearing test was performed and ask for the results. If a babys hearing was not screened it is best to speak to a pediatrician and schedule an initial hearing screening before the child is 1 month old.
Approximately 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard of hearing. Fortunately, early identification and intervention allows children with hearing loss to receive help during the first two years of life, a critical period for the development of speech and language skills, according to Dr. Robert Dobie, Senior Scientific Trustee, Hearing Health Foundation.
Left undetected, hearing loss can negatively impact speech and language acquisition, academic achievement, and social and emotional development. These negative impacts can diminish and even be eliminated through early detection and intervention.
Hospitals use two different types of newborn hearing screening tests. Both are safe and comfortable for your baby.
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Identifying Babies At Risk For Permanent Hearing Loss
Babies with certain risks for hearing loss will be monitored. The same sample collected by the hospital or midwife for the newborn blood spot screening can be screened for:
- Cytomegalovirus infection babies usually show no symptoms at birth but hearing loss could develop later
- Some common genetic risk factors there is usually no family history of hearing loss
Hearing Loss In Babies
1 to 2 babies in every 1,000 are born with permanent hearing loss in 1 or both ears.
This increases to about 1 in every 100 babies who have spent more than 48 hours in intensive care.
Most of these babies are born into families with no history of permanent hearing loss.
Permanent hearing loss can significantly affect babies’ development.
Finding out early can give these babies a better chance of developing language, speech and communication skills.
It will also help them make the most of relationships with their family or carers from an early age.
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What Passing Or Failing The Test Means
Newborn hearing screenings are powerful tools to identify potential hearing loss that could impact a childs language development as they grow. But theyre also snapshots in time.
In other words, passing a newborn hearing test doesnt mean your child will never experience hearing loss. And conversely, failing an initial hearing test doesnt mean your child has permanent hearing loss.
To pass a test, your newborn must clear the screening in both ears. If your baby only passes in one ear, that test is considered failed and theyll need to be rescreened. If your baby fails the first test but passes the rescreen and doesnt have risk factors for hearing loss, this counts as a pass and they wont need more screening.
Being able to hear is important no parent wants to learn their bundle of joy didnt pass a health screening. But just like with other diagnostic tools, its possible to have a false negative with newborn hearing tests.
According to Boys Town National Research Hospital, roughly 2 to 10 percent of all newborns in the United States wont pass their first hearing screening. But of those who fail, less than 1 percent go on to be diagnosed with lasting hearing loss. So, what gives?
And in some cases, your baby might have been awake during the hearing test. Its possible they were moving too much, crying, screaming, or fussing which means the test results could be inaccurate.
When Is Newborn Hearing Screening Test Performed
The screening test can be performed at the earliest. It is usually carried out at the hospital before the baby gets discharged. Experts recommend that the test is conducted when the infant is about a month old as they can clearly differentiate between sounds at this stage in life. However, there is no harm in extending the test until the infant is three months old.
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Information Is Plentiful And Easy To Get
The Infant Hearing Program can provide information about resources for families with infants or toddlers who have been diagnosed with hearing loss. Youll get information about state and national support organizations, service clubs, and financial assistance options. Information is also available detailing terminology, communication choices, how to deal with emotions and information about hearing and hearing loss. Call the Arkansas Department of Health at 501-280-4740 for more information.
If You Dont Test Babys Hearing At The Hospital
While the standard is to test a babys hearing before theyre discharged from a hospital or birthing center, that doesnt mean it always happens.
You should get your babys hearing checked before they reach 1 month of age. Typically, your babys healthcare professional can schedule the test. If your baby doesnt pass this test, your pediatrician may recommend working with a pediatric audiologist.
Newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit arent always screened within the first few days of life. Often this test may be delayed until theyre medically stable or ready to be discharged.
Additionally, parents who opt for at-home births will need to work with their doctor to schedule a hearing screening before their baby is 1 month old.
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What Happens If My Baby Doesnt Pass The Test
The hearing specialist will conduct tests to determine whether your baby has a hearing problem and, if so, the type and severity of that problem.
- If any newborn kid doesnt pass in screening test at birth then it doesnt mean that he has a hearing problem, but it means that more tests are required.
- Kids sometimes fail the first test because they have liquid in the middle ear in the ear canal, or because the place is too noisy or theyre too feisty during the test. Many kids who fail the first test go on to pass follow-up testing.
Follow up testing
Between 2 to 10 percent of all babies across the United States do not pass their first hearing screen.
However, Many newborn babies are not able to pass the hearing screening due to vernix in the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, or because of movement or crying during the test.
Since few babies have a hearing loss, it becomes very important that you go through all the procedures by fixing an appointment to confirm test results.
Make sure you have completed all the tests before your baby is 3 months old.
Hearing Tests For A Newborn Baby
There are 2 main types of hearing screening methods for newborns. These may be used alone or together:
Evoked otoacoustic emissions . A test that uses a tiny, flexible plug that is put into the baby’s ear. Sounds are sent through the plug. A microphone in the plug records the otoacoustic responses of the normal ear in reaction to the sounds. There are no emissions in a baby with hearing loss. This test is painless and it often takes just a few minutes. It is done while the baby sleeps.
Auditory brainstem response . A test that uses wires attached with adhesive to the baby’s scalp. While the baby sleeps, clicking sounds are made through tiny earphones in the baby’s ears. The test measures the brain’s activity in response to the sounds. As in EOAE, this test is painless and takes only a few minutes.
If the screening tests finds that your child has a hearing loss, more testing is needed. Babies with hearing loss should be identified by age 3 months. Then treatment can begin before the baby is 6 months old, an important time for speech and language development.
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What Is Newborn Infant Hearing Screening
- Newborn infant hearing screening programs are designed to identify hearing loss in infants shortly after birth.
- All states have implemented these screening protocols within hospitals and birthing clinics.
- Most hearing screening tests are done prior to discharge from the hospital or birthing clinics.
- Typically, nurses or medical assistants are trained extensively on how to operate automated equipment for testing infants. Prior to discharge, each newborn has his/her hearing tested. If, for some reason, the newborn does not pass the screen, a rescreen is usually done. If the infant does not pass the second hearing test, he/she is referred to a specialist for further testing.
- Specialists who are experts at testing hearing are called audiologists. Audiologists have had training that emphasizes diagnostic hearing testing techniques as well as hearing rehabilitation of children and adults. Their postgraduate academic training requires a minimum of a master’s degree.