The newborn baby hearing test is used to identify if a baby has hearing issues. The reason why it is done on babies is that it’s better to detect hearing issues as soon as it is possible. This simply implies that the advice and support parents might need is readily available.
Out of every 1000 babies born, at least one or two suffer from hearing loss. And don’t be coaxed into thinking that babies with total loss of hearing are only born to parents having this issue. The majority are born to normal parents or families having no records of hearing loss. The development of a baby is negatively impacted when they suffer from this health condition. And that is why it is important to find out early if a baby is suffering from this problem so that proper arrangements can be made for their communication, speech, and language development. This is a crucial step and is required to ensure that they grow a healthy relationship with their family members and friends.
When is this test conducted on a baby?
A lot of babies undergo this test hour after they are born. This mostly happens when they’re born in the hospital. However, if a baby is not born in a hospital, that baby’s parents can approach a healthcare professional to get this test done within the first few weeks of the baby’s birth. You can also talk to your local newborn hearing screening service provider for a suitable venue and time. It’s best to do the test within the first four to five weeks of a baby’s birth. However, if time is a constraint, you can also get it done before the baby is three months old. Although most doctors suggest getting this test done, you may proactively ask your doctor, local health professional, or the Audiology department in your city for an appointment.
What is the process of the newborn hearing test?
This test is also referred to as the automated otoacoustic emission test. And it doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes. The tool that is used for the procedure is a tiny earpiece with a soft tip. This earpiece is inserted into the ears of the baby. If your baby doesn’t respond to the mild sounds this earpiece lets out, it could mean they are suffering from hearing loss. But then it’s important to note here that the first test is usually of not much benefit as some infants fail to respond to the sounds they are exposed to. Hence, if your baby is not responding in the initial test, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have hearing loss. Maybe the baby was distracted when the screening was being undertaken; maybe they couldn’t pick the sounds because there was noise in the background, or maybe your baby’s ear canal was temporarily blocked with fluid. So, if your baby fails to respond to the first test, they need to be subjected to the second round of screening.
The second test might be the same as the first one or different. The most commonly done test in the second round is the AABR test. In this test, 3 tiny sensors are placed on the neck and head of the baby, and then headphones are gently rested over their ears through which they are exposed to mild clicking sounds. The test takes about 5 to 15 minutes and causes no harm to the baby. If the baby responds, it means that they are not suffering from any hearing loss.
Is it compulsory for a baby to get this test done?
Although this test is not mandatory, it’s a highly recommended test. Parents who don’t get this test done on their baby are asked to assess their baby’s responsiveness to sounds in other ways. You may be given a checklist so that you can track your baby’s hearing abilities as they grow up. It’s important that you talk to your healthcare provider in case of any doubt or concern.
How long does it take for the test results to come out?
Usually, the results are handed over to parents as soon as the testing is complete. If your baby responds well to sounds produced in both ears, it’s generally concluded that they are not suffering from permanent hearing loss. However, this test is not meant for all kinds of permanent hearing loss. It isn’t able to predict if a child will develop hearing loss later in life. And that is why it’s extremely important to check your child’s hearing abilities when they are growing.
What happens if the results are not satisfactory?
If your baby’s responses are not to the satisfaction of the primary health care provider, they might refer the baby to a hearing specialist. Note that just because your doctor has suggested that you consult a hearing specialist doesn’t mean your baby has hearing loss. As discussed above, your baby might fail to respond to sounds because of a lot of factors. You should approach your hearing specialist within a month of the hearing test. The appointment with the doctor should last for about 1 to 2 hours. But this also includes the time that will be needed to settle the baby. Your hearing specialist will conduct more tests and will let you know if your baby is actually suffering from any hearing loss issue.