New Born Hearing Screening

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Tests for newborn hearing assessment

One of the most important developmental milestones to be achieved during infancy and early childhood is the development of language. Babies start to say their first words around one year of age. And in two years of time, the babies start speaking 2-3 word sentences. Language skills developed during the preschool years at home by the parents is the first and foremost basic foundation for learning language.

Hearing impairment in babies is one of the most serious sensory impairments with significant social and psychological consequences. Failure to detect new born babies / children with congenital ( by-birth) or acquired ( after birth ) hearing loss may result in lifelong deficits in speech and language acquisition, poor academic performance and personal-social and behavior problems.

Now a days , most of the Obstetrics & Gynecology hospitals are having newborn hearing screening device to identify the babies born with hearing problems.

Usually the babies are screened after 30 days of birth and if result says PASS, the baby has normal functioning ears. If a baby on screening identified as FAIL/ REFER , the baby should be re-tested after 90 days. After 90 days if the baby’s result shows FAIL / REFER , the baby should be directed to Audiology department for further tests and enrolled in early intervention/ treatment & management.

Otoacoustic Emissions Test (OAEs)

A miniature earphone and microphone are placed in the ear, sounds are played and a response is measured.

  • If a baby hears normally, an echo is reflected back into the ear canal and is measured by the microphone
  • When a baby has a hearing loss, no echo or a reduced echo can be measured on the OAE test

Auditory Brainstem Response Test (ABR)

Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing is the best test available for newborns and infants up to 6 months of age that can provide information about the softest level of sound the ear can hear.

Sounds are played to the baby’s ears and like electrodes are placed on the baby’s head to detect responses. Sounds are presented to the ears using small earphones. The electrodes pick up responses from the hearing nerve and a computer measures the responses to identify babies who have hearing loss.