The first few months with a new baby are a whirlwind. Pushing through sleep deprivation, endless diaper changes, and around-the-clock feedings become parents’ number one priority.
But for parents who notice their infant not startling to loud noises or turning his or her head because of a sound, concern over potential hearing loss may shoot to the top of the list.
About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with hearing loss in one or both ears, and more than 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
Hearing testing for newborns and children is important for monitoring a baby’s hearing ability from the first days through adolescence.
How Do I Know If I Need Hearing Testing for My Newborn?
In most states, hospitals are required to do a newborn hearing screening before the baby goes home. If your baby didn’t have that hearing screening, you should definitely get one done within the first three weeks of life.
According to Kidshealth.org, even if your infant passes the initial hearing screening, you should “watch for these signs that he or she hears well. Hearing milestones that should be reached in the first year of life include:
Most newborns startle or ‘jump’ to sudden loud noises.
By three months, a baby usually recognizes a parent's voice.
By six months, babies can usually turn their eyes or head toward a sound.
By 12 months, babies can usually imitate some sounds and produce a few words, such as ‘Mama’ or ‘bye-bye.’”
Some circumstances lead to a higher risk of hearing loss, so pay close attention to your child if any of these apply:
Congenital disabilities commonly linked to hearing loss, such as Pendred, Usher, Waardenburg, and Treacher Collins Syndromes
Frequent ear infections
Infections that can damage hearing, such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus
Family history of hearing loss
Hearing Testing for Newborns and Children
We offer hearing testing for newborns and children at Marvel Clinic. Several types of hearing tests may be given based upon the child’s age, development, and overall health.
Behavioral tests involve careful observation of a child’s behavioral response to a sound. These tests may include an infant turning its head, a child raising a hand, or repeating words. Behavioral tests can be used with both infants and children.
Physiologic tests can estimate hearing function and are often used with children who can’t be tested behaviorally (due to their young age, developmental delay, or other medical condition). The tests are often performed on infants and children who are sleeping or slightly sedated.
Auditory brainstem response (ABR) test – measures the hearing nerve’s response to sounds played through tiny earphones placed in the ear canal.
Auditory steady state response (ASSR) test – done in conjunction with the ABR; a computer reads the brain’s response to the sound played through the ear canals and estimates the hearing level.
Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test – pulse-type sounds are played through a tiny probe in the ear canal; the response from the outer hair cells in the inner ear is recorded.
Tympanometry – a procedure that shows how well the eardrum moves when soft sound and air pressure are introduced in the ear canal. This is used to create a tympanogram, which is a graphic representation of tympanometry.
Middle ear muscle reflex (MEMR) – a series of loud sounds is sent through a soft rubber tip in the ear canal, and a machine records if the sound has triggered a reflex.
Put Your Mind at Ease with Hearing Testing for Your Child
If you have a concern about your child’s ability to hear, a hearing test will give you precise information about the extent of hearing loss. Our staff will also be able to discuss treatment options with you once we’ve gotten the results from a hearing test.
Schedule your free consultation now to discuss if hearing testing for your newborn or child should be your next step. Call us at 931-398-1158 or contact us today!