Infants And Babies Hearing Can Be Checked
Do you know that your babys hearing can be checked even before leaving the birth hospital? Many states, communities, and hospitals offer hearing screening for babies. A babys hearing can be screened using Automated Auditory Brainstem Response , Otoacoustic Emissions , or both.
Babies usually have their hearing screened while still in the hospital, either in the nursery or in their mothers room.
Why The Test Is Needed
Babies begin to soak up information as soon as theyâre born. One of the most important learning tools they have is their hearing. Your baby will learn a lot when they listen to whatâs going on in the world around them, including what you say to them.
Research shows that infants with hearing problems that are not known or addressed before theyâre 6 months old may have trouble with speech and language as they get older. But if any hearing problems are found and addressed before 6 months, a childâs speech and language should develop at a normal pace. Thatâs why early testing is so important.
You might think your babyâs hearing is fine when it isnât. Hearing loss can be subtle.
Many babies with hearing loss can hear some things, but they might not hear enough things to help them learn language. For instance, your little one may cry when they hear a door slam or a smoke alarm go off, but that doesnât mean that they can hear a whisper or someone talking at normal volume.
Hearing Tests For Newborn Babies
Hearing loss in babies and small children can affect their ability to develop speech and social skills. About three in 1000 babies are born with a hearing problem. In order to diagnose and treat any hearing loss as early as possible, babies should undergo a hearing test a few weeks after theyre born. Here is what you need to know about hearing loss and testing in babies!
Most babies born in Australia have their hearing checked as part of the free, universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program. Early treatment is the key to minimising the effects of their hearing impairment. If you think that your child might be suffering from hearing loss, dont hesitate to immediately contact your healthcare provider!
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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
How Do You Know If Your Child Can Hear
- Newborns up to eight weeks of age: Startles or widens their eyes at sudden noises nearby, and is woken or stirred from sleep by the noise.
- Eight weeks to four months: Looks towards the direction of the sound, and may quieten while listening.
- Six to 12 months: Turns head towards known voices or sounds, and starts to babble.
- 12 to 18 months: Knows the names of favourite toys, and begins to imitate simple words and sounds.
- 18 to 24 months: Has a small vocabulary of single words, and can understand simple directions.
- 2.5 to 3.5 years: Has clear speech with a good vocabulary.
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What Is An Abr Test
In order to process sounds, electrical impulses are transmitted through nerves from our ears to the brainstem at the base of the brain. An auditory brainstem response is a physiological measure of the brainstem’s response to sound. It tests the integrity of the hearing system from the ear to the brainstem.
- The test is performed by placing four to five electrodes on the infant’s head, after which a variety of sounds is presented to the infant through small earphones.
- As the hearing nerve fires, the sound stimulus travels up to the brain.
- This electrical activity generated by the nerve can be recorded by the electrodes and is represented as waveforms on a computer screen.
- The audiologist can then present different loudness levels of each sound and determine the softest levels at which the infant can hear.
- For infant-screening purposes, only one sound is used to test the hearing, commonly referred to as a “click.”
- The click is a grouping of several sounds to test a wider area of the hearing organ at one time.
- The click is typically presented at a loud level and a soft one.
- If a healthy response is recorded, then the infant has “passed” the hearing screen.
- Testing usually takes five to 15 minutes to complete.
What Happens During The Hearing Test For Babies
- Small sensors are placed on your baby’s forehead, and below and above an ear.
- A cushioned earpiece is placed over one ear at a time and a chirping sound is played through this.
- The sensors on your baby’s head pick up the response from your baby’s hearing nerve.
- A computer measures the response and provides a result.
- The test takes about 1520 minutes and doesn’t cause your baby any pain.
- A second test is offered if the results from the first test are unclear.
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Your Babys Visit To The Audiology Clinic
Audiology clinics have special equipment to test your babys hearing. These tests will give better information about your babys hearing.
Early testing means you will know if your baby has a hearing loss when they are still very young. This is important for their future development.
Your baby needs more tests because their hearing screening tests did not show a clear response in one or both ears. About 2 to 3 babies in every 100 do not show a clear response and are referred to audiology.
Most babies tested at an audiology clinic are found to have satisfactory hearing.
About 1 in 15 babies tested at the audiology clinic have a permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. Some have a temporary hearing loss. Finding out about hearing loss early gives babies a better chance of developing language, speech and communication skills as well as making sure their families receive the support they need.
It is important you bring your baby to the appointment. This is because they may need other tests to find a possible cause if they do have a hearing loss. These tests should be performed within the first few weeks of birth.
Some babies who have a hearing loss do react to sounds. The hearing loss may not be picked up without the tests in audiology.
If your baby does have a hearing loss, it is important to find out as soon as possible.
Monitoring Your Babys Hearing
Some babies who pass their hearing screen or diagnostic testing may develop a hearing loss later. It is important that you continue to monitor your childs hearing.
If you have concerns about your childs hearing you should talk to your midwife, GP, Well Child provider or early childhood teacher. There are checklists in the Well Child/Tamariki Ora Health Book to help you figure out if your baby can hear well.
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What Is The Difference Between A Hearing Screen And A Diagnostic Hearing Test
The basic difference between a diagnostic test and a hearing screen is the amount of information gathered during the session.
- For example, if an infant fails the hearing screen, it is unknown if there truly is a hearing loss, how much hearing loss is present, or whether or not the hearing loss is permanent or correctable.
- A diagnostic test can usually answer these questions. The diagnostic test session is understandably longer and requires more interaction with the infant.
- Typically, a more extensive ABR is conducted, using a variety of test stimuli. OAEs are also performed to cross-check the results of the ABR.
- To complete a thorough test, the infant needs to sleep in the office for upward of 45 minutes. The more information that can be collected, the more complete the results will be.
Why Newborn Hearing Screening Is Important
Your babys sense of hearing is a crucial piece to the development puzzle. According to the American-Speech-Language Hearing Association , untreated hearing loss can cause delays in speech and language communication skills which affect academic achievement and may lead to social isolation and poor self-concept. Studies show hearing loss even affects infant babble.
Children who receive treatment and/or learn American Sign Language are statistically better equipped to develop the language skills they need to succeed in school and the work environment.
The earlier hearing loss is detected, the sooner your family can enroll in age-appropriate intervention programs. Fortunately, all 50 states fund Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programs designed to screen all babies for hearing loss by one month of age. Follow-up screenings by three months of age confirm whether a baby is deaf or hard of hearing and provide enrollment into early intervention programs by 6 months of age. And, thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act , all children who have hearing loss are entitled to receive free services throughout their education to age 21.
In the U.S., all children who have hearing loss are entitled to receive free services throughout their education up to age 21.
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What Is Newborn Hearing Screening
Most babies are born with normal hearing and experience the beauty of sound from the beginning but 1-3 out of 1000 are born with hearing loss. Those children cannot properly hear their parents speak, sing or read to them which delays speech and language learning. Newborn hearing screening identifies babies at risk for hearing loss so they can be evaluated and treated early.
The hearing screening is performed in the hospital by a nurse or outside of the hospital by a health professional. Many countries have implemented Universal Newborn Hearing Screening so that every baby has access to hearing screening soon after birth.
How Will My Babys Hearing Be Screened
A newborn undergoes a hearing screening.
Two different tests are used to screen for hearing loss in babies. Your baby can rest or sleep during both tests.
- Otoacoustic emissions tests whether some parts of the ear respond to sound. During this test, a soft earphone is inserted into your babys ear canal. It plays sounds and measures an “echo” response that occurs in ears with normal hearing. If there is no echo, your baby might have hearing loss.
- The auditory brain stem response tests how the auditory nerve and brain stem respond to sound. During this test, your baby wears small earphones and has electrodes painlessly placed on his or her head. The electrodes adhere and come off like stickers and should not cause discomfort.
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Treatment Options For Hearing Loss
If your baby has hearing loss, youll be referred to an audiologist and an ear, nose, and throat doctor to determine how to manage their condition. Depending on the severity of your babys hearing loss, the doctor may recommend a variety of solutions. They may also provide you with recommendations for family support groups to help your family cope.
Hearing loss intervention in babies can include recommending a hearing device such as a pediatric hearing aid or cochlear implants. But as your child grows, there are other techniques to help them improve their language and communication skills.
In the United States, your child may learn American Sign Language . They may also learn skills such as lipreading or cued speech to help guide their communication. Alternatively, assistive listening devices such as personal FM amplifiers and closed captioning can also make understanding language in everyday life easier.
What Language And Communication Approaches Might Be Available For My Child
Children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can learn to communicate in several ways. Find out as much as you can about the communication choices and ask your health care team to refer you to experts if you want to know more. Because language development begins early, regardless of the communication mode you choose, you should engage with your child and begin intervention as soon as possible.
Common approaches used to help children with hearing loss communicate and interact with others include:
- Listening and spoken language : works to strengthen listening, talking, and reading skills through the use of natural hearing and hearing devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, without the use of manual communication.
- Auditory-oral: emphasizes residual natural hearing in combination with amplification devices and technology to help children develop speech and spoken-language skills. It includes the use of speech reading and natural gestures in the communication process.
- Cued speech: is a system of specific hand shapes and placements that represent groups of consonants and vowels and that are used in combination with natural lip movements.
- American Sign Language: is a visual-manual, natural language that is used in the American Deaf community.
- Combined approaches: use aspects of various communication approaches, some of which are listed above, to expose children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to many ways to communicate with others.
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How Are Hearing Problems Diagnosed
There are a few ways to detect hearing loss very early in life. The oto-acoustic emission test is the most common one . A specialist will put a small microphone in your babys ear, which sends a sound. The echo that comes back is sent to a portable computer. The computer can tell whether the baby heard the sound. The test, which takes 10 to 15 minutes, can often be done before your newborn baby leaves the hospital or at a designated hearing screening unit after leaving the hospital.
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that all newborns have their hearing tested. Many Canadian provinces and territories have universal newborn hearing screening programsmeaning all babies are tested at birth. Families of babies who screen positive should follow up with a full hearing evaluation.
About The Hearing Screen
Screening a babys hearing accurately requires special training and equipment.
The screen is reliable, quick and give results right away. It measures the ears or brains response to soft sounds played in your babys ear and, if needed, may use small stickers placed on your babys head.
The technology used for the hearing screen is safe and will not hurt your baby.
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Why Is It Important To Have My Babys Hearing Screened Early
The most important time for a child to learn language is in the first 3 years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing. In fact, children with typical hearing begin learning speech and language in the first 6 months of life. This is why it is so important to screen and start interventions for hearing loss as early as possible. Research shows that children with hearing loss who get help early develop better language skills than those who dont.