World Hearing Day | Why is a Hearing Test so Important for the Baby?

04 March 2017 - By GENWORKS

Did you know 1 in 5 Indian children are born with detectable #hearing loss in one or both ears? Early screening is a critical first step to prevent hearing loss. #SoundStart

The ability to hear is the foundation of your baby’s ability to learn, so it’s important to identify any problems just as soon as possible. That’s why experts recommend that your baby’s hearing be screened before he leaves the hospital. In fact, most hospitals do routine hearing tests for babies as part of their newborn screening.

If you’re not sure whether your baby’s hearing was tested after birth, call and ask. If it wasn’t, or if your baby was born someplace without available testing, ask his doctor about hearing screening, preferably within the first month.

“Babies who receive appropriate diagnosis and intervention for their hearing loss before the age of 6 months usually do just fine,” says Alison Grimes, audiologist and assistant clinical professor at UCLA Medical Center. “But those who don’t often suffer delays in speech and language, social, and academic skills.”

What’s the screening test like?

Two types of newborn hearing screening tests are used: automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) and otoacoustic emissions (OAE). Each takes only five or ten minutes and is perfectly painless. Many babies sleep through the screening.

To do the AABR test, a nurse places sensors, connected to a computer, on your baby’s scalp. These sensors measure your baby’s brainwave activity in response to little clicking sounds that are transmitted through small earphones.

The OAE test measures sound waves in the inner ear. The screener places a little device in your baby’s ear that makes soft clicking sounds, and a computer connected to the device records the ear’s response to the sounds.

Some hospitals use both tests, while others screen first with OAE and follow up with AABR if the baby doesn’t test well.