Infant hearing screening

Infant hearing screening

Can you compare the feeling of cuddling your newborn to any other moments in your life? I think not, seeing and taking the newborn is just the best gift of your life. To bring this gift safely in your hand and to assure the wellbeing of your little one, the medical professionals work hard, and they advise what is good for your baby. Most of the hospitals perform newborn screening to make sure that your baby is healthy. The screening tests come in different tests for a different purpose; among them is screening for hearing loss in infants. Here you will know about how does newborn infant hearing screening works and the treatments. So stay with me till the end.

Why baby hearing screening test is important

The newborn hearing test helps to identify the hearing loss problems in the baby. If the hearing problem can be identified early, then parents will get the advice and support from the beginning. For this, the healing process gets fast, and the baby can hear.

Infant hearing screening

Among 1000 newborn babies, you will find one or two babies with a permanent hearing problem, and one baby among 100 babies who spends in intensive care for 48 hours gets this problem. The interesting fact is most of the cases are not inherited or genetic.

The hearing loss has a great effect on the baby’s growth problem, and the untreated hearing problem causes speech delay and problems in communication skills.

When is newborn hearing screening done?

Nowadays, most of the hospitals ask new parents to go for a newborn screening procedure. This procedure includes a newborn hearing test. If you skip the tests for some reason, then you can do the tests by a professional in the first few weeks. The best time is 4 to 5 weeks and before three months of age.

What are the causes of infant hearing loss?

Some children are born with a hearing problem, and this happens for different causes, but it is not proven. Researches say genetic factors are responsible for 50 percent hearing loss in the children. The factors are:

About 70 percent of genetic hearing loss comes with autosomal recessive hearing loss, and it is the common one. It means the parents are carrying the gene, but they are not affected.

15 percent of genetic hearing loss comes for the autosomal dominant hearing loss. It means either one of the parents has this gene that is dominant or the parents may have or not a hearing problem but may have a genetic problem.

There are also some non-genetic factors like:

Complications in birth, lack of oxygen, infectious diseases like rubella, herpes, etc. can cause hearing loss in babies.

A premature baby whose birth weight was less than 3 pounds has the risk of hearing loss problems.

Brain disorder or nervous system problems can cause the infant hearing loss.

Medicine overdose and drug abuse

Types of hearing tests for babies

There are two types of hearing tests for infants. It is quick and painless; the test will be completed in minutes while lying or sleeping. The tests are:

Infant hearing screening

  • Hearing brainstem response

To make this test, you have to use the wires to attach the wires on the baby’s scalp. They come with adhesive. When the baby is sleeping, the clicking sound enters in the baby’s ear through the earphones. The test will measure the brain’s activity, whether it was responding to sound or not.

  • Aroused otoacoustic radiations

In this test, a flexible and tiny plug will be put in the baby’s ear. The physician sends the sound through the plug, and the microphone records the otoacoustic emissions of the normal ear, whether it is reacting or not. If the baby has hear loss problem, then there will be no reaction. The test is done when the baby is sleeping, and it takes just a few minutes.

If the screening test shows the baby has a hearing problem, then more tests need to be done before three months, and the treatment will start when the baby is six months old.

 What if the newborn hearing test failed?

If the baby doesn’t pass the first hearing test, then the physician will go for the stage two test that takes 10 minutes. In the second test, a small probe is placed in the year to see the response of the brain activity, and on the baby head, small electrode sensors have to put also.

If the second test also fails, then the baby needs to come for the next screening tests in a week or two. If that step also fails, then it is time to consult with a pediatric audiologist to diagnose the cause.

Sometimes you will see newborn hearing test failed in one ear. This hearing problem is known as unilateral deafness- your baby has a hearing problem in one ear.

Treatments of infant hearing loss

The treatment of hearing loss depends on the cause and severity of the hearing problem of your children. You can treat the problem by using cochlear implants, hearing aids, and speech therapy, or aiding listening tool. Let’s talk about the treatment

Infant hearing screening

Using hearing aid

The hearing aids help to hear the sound clearly in the problematic ears. Different pediatric hearing aids offer excellent hearing support. These hearing aids come with different accessories and special coverings to make it childproof. So you will not worry about the misplacement.

Cochlear implants

This device is surgically implanted, which helps to stimulate the auditory nerve of the inner ear with electrical inspiration.  This device is kid-friendly and works for the infants who don’t get a response with the hearing aid.

Frequently asked the question:

  1. How to test newborn hearing at home?

Ans: To test the hearing problem in the infant at home, you have to do the test in a quiet place. Use the headphone and speakers for the test. Test both ears individually and remember to keep the sound volume at a comfortable level.

  1. Why do newborns fail hearing tests?

Ans:  the newborn hearing test may fail because of the amniotic fluid in the infant’s ears, vernix in the ear, and movement during the test.

  1. How accurate are the newborn hearing tests?

Ans:  the hearing tests are accurate and help to indicate the baby hearing problem is there or not.

  1. Is it common for a newborn to fail a hearing test?

Ans:  2 to 10 percent of the babies who go through the infant hearing screening do not pass the first hearing screen. But not all of them have a hearing problem. Fluid in the middle ear or vernix in the ear canal or movement while testing fails the hearing test.

  1. How long can fluid stay in newborn ears?

Ans: the fluids can stay for a short time or 4 to 6 months in the newborn ears.

  1. Can Infant Hearing improve?

Ans: research shows that baby with the hearing problem gets improved if they use hearing aid from early life.


Final remarks

Infant hearing screening is a part of the infant screening process. Every newborn has to go through this process right after the birth. For this screening, if your baby is diagnosed with a hearing problem, then you can improve the problem by giving the early treatment. Don’t lose hope if your baby has a hearing loss problem. Follow up the baby with the physician and do the treatment properly.

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