Infant Hearing Tests For Early Detection of Hearing Challenges

Approximately 0.1% of newborns in Europe and North America have a hearing loss of more than 40 decibels (dB), according to CDC statistics. Hearing loss prevalence in US infants in 2019 showed 1.7 per 1,000 babies were born with hearing loss.

Because infant hearing loss has a significant negative impact on speech and language development, the state of Louisiana mandates screening infants for hearing loss at birth.

Should your infant not pass the initial newborn screening, your hospital will schedule a diagnostic ABR/DPOAE examination with an Audiologist from Acadian Hearing and Speech Services after your baby is released.

Identifying hearing loss early is a critical part of your child’s development, allowing him/her to:

  • Develop speech and language skills.
  • Learn in school settings.
  • Develop socialization skills.

To achieve the best possible results, intervention for babies with hearing loss needs to begin before your child is six months old.

Schedule An Infant Hearing Test

Important Facts About Infant Hearing Loss

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Genetics Is A Major Factor In Infant Hearing Loss.

About 50% to 60% of children with hearing loss are genetically inclined toward hearing loss at birth. Additionally, about 20% of babies with genetic hearing loss also have Down Syndrome, Usher Syndrome, or another type of “syndrome.”

Infections, Environmental Causes, And Birth Complications Affect Infant Hearing Loss.

An infection in the mother during pregnancy, other environmental causes, and complications during the birthing process account for about 30% of infant hearing loss cases.

Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infection Can Cause Infant Hearing Loss.

Though it is a preventable risk factor for hearing loss among infants, about 14% of those exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop some type of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), while between 3% and 5% develop bilateral moderate-to-profound SNHL. However, only about 14% of women are aware of the condition and its effects, according to a 2005 HealthStyles survey conducted by the CDC.

Low Birth Weights Are Commonly Associated With Infant Hearing Loss.

About one in four children with hearing loss are born weighing less than 5 1/2 pounds, according to a CDC study.

Several Disabilities Co-occur In Those With Infant Hearing Loss.

CDC tracking over a 21-year period identified that 23% of babies with hearing loss have an intellectual disability, while 10% also have cerebral palsy, 7% have autism spectrum disorder, and 5% experience some form of vision impairment.

What To Expect During ABR/DPOAE Testing

An exam so easy your baby doesn’t even have to be awake to take it? It might seem too good to be true, but it really is. In fact, the two tests used for infant hearing evaluations take just a few minutes, are pain-free, and are done while your infant is asleep or eating.

Preparing For Testing

For an infant diagnostic hearing exam with Acadian Hearing and Speech Services, your baby should be tired and hungry so that the parent can feed the infant during the exam. This helps make things go a lot smoother. Please no hair gels, lotions, or earrings.

Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions (DPOAE)

Your baby’s audiologist will insert a tiny probe that emits a series of sounds just at the entrance to your baby’s ear canal. DPOAEs are distorted sounds generated by the cochlea’s outer hair cells in response to two tones that are close in frequency. The presence of a DPOAE response is an indication that the cochlear amplifier is functioning properly.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

Imagine a pair of tiny headphones that will fit into your baby’s ear canals. That’s what your audiologist will use, along with an array of electrodes placed on his/her scalp. As your baby listens to the transmitted sounds, the ABR system will measure auditory neurosychrony. If the auditory neurosychrony is abnormal, this would be an indicator of hearing problems.

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What Do The Test Results Mean?

First of all, it is necessary to understand that a newborn who hasn’t passed the initial hearing tests may not necessarily have an auditory loss. About 90% of newborn babies who don’t pass their first screening pass a subsequent hearing test.

Babies can fail initial screenings due to temporary conditions such as too much wax, vernix, or fluid in the ear.

There are essentially three result scenarios after an infant hearing test:

1. Testing determines that your infant does have some hearing loss in one or both ears. It is critical for treatment to start within the first six months of life in order to provide an adequate opportunity for learning how to speak and acquire language skills.

2. While your baby may have passed the newborn hearing screening, it does not rule out the possibility that he/she could experience hearing loss later on in childhood. Consequently, if your child passes, your audiologist will still want you to monitor speech/ language progress in order to catch the problem as early as possible.

3. A third scenario involves passing the initial screening, but with some indicators that your baby might develop late-onset hearing loss due to genetic disposition, infections and illnesses, exposure to secondhand smoke, or NICU treatments. In this case, further esaminations may be required.

Treatment Solutions For Hearing Loss In Babies

Acadian Hearing and Speech Services provides solutions and ongoing guidance with early intervention from the State parent/pupil teams, speech/ language intervention, and hearing aid options.

We’ll form an early intervention plan within the first six months of age that includes your baby’s pediatrician, Audiologist, otolaryngologist, and speech/language pathologist. This team of specialists will help guide your decisions regarding which treatments or devices will provide the best outcomes based on the type and degree of hearing loss your baby is experiencing.

Interventions may include:

  • Meeting with a professional who is trained to work with children who have hearing loss as well as their families.
  • Working with a professional who can help a family and child learn to communicate.
  • Fitting a baby with a hearing device, such as a hearing aid or cochlear implant.
  • Joining family support groups.
  • Other resources available to children with hearing loss and their families.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Loss In Infants And Children

Does My Child Need To Have Regular Hearing Assessments?

Pediatricians generally begin well-check screenings at age 4 years. School-based screenings begin in kindergarten and occur every other year until 8th grade.

How Can I Help Protect My Child’s Hearing?

Provide ear protection for children engaging in any noise activities and monitor volume levels on personal listening devices with earbuds or earphones.

How Do I Address My Child’s Hearing Challenges With Caregivers And Teachers?

Be the child’s advocate with the schools. It is essential to have documentation of these issues with an evaluation from Acadian Hearing and Speech Services.

How Can I Help My Child Understand The Hearing Challenges He/She Is Facing?

The Audiologists at Acadian Hearing and Speech Services can use many tools to counsel parents on the hearing status of their children and how to help their children understand it better.

Schedule An Infant Hearing Test

When it comes to addressing the critical issues of infant hearing loss, you’re in a race against the clock because early detection leads to the best intervention outcomes.

If your child did not receive a newborn hearing screening (mandated by the State of Louisiana), was flagged for a follow-up hearing assessment, or is struggling with speech/communication, complete and submit the adjacent form to schedule an infant hearing test.

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What Happens At An Infant Hearing Test And When Is It Required?

With 2 to 3 of every thousand children born with a detectable measure of hearing loss in the US, and more than 90% of deaf children born to hearing parents, early infant hearing testing is extremely important.

In Louisiana, “Hospital screening programs form the basis for all statewide early hearing detection efforts and 100% of all birthing hospitals in the state were legislatively mandated to perform universal newborn hearing screening as of April 1, 2002.”