Why Newborn Babies Need A Hearing Screening - Newborn Hearing
In the first days of a baby's life, there will be a lot of excitement and joy. There will also be a few standard tests performed before you can welcome your baby into their new home. These tests are usually performed at the hospital to ensure your newborn is healthy. One of these is a newborn hearing screening. Don't let this procedure cause you any fear or trepidation.
If your child is born with hearing loss, early detection is key. You may think your baby is not at risk because both you and your spouse are fine, but about half the children born with some amount of hearing loss have no risk indicators for it in their family. That's why it's crucial to perform this screening, as hearing loss can be difficult to detect in newborns. If you have a home birth, be sure to arrange an infant hearing screening for your baby.
The Purpose of Newborn Hearing Screening
Out of every 1,000 newborns, two out of every three will be born with detectable hearing loss, either in one or both ears. For that reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends hearing tests on newborn infants before they leave the hospital. A newborn hearing screening can identify possible hearing loss in children as young as a few days old. The reason this is so important is early intervention. Available services and programs can help families adapt to their child's hearing loss.
Babies are amazing. The rate at which they learn is astounding, and it begins the day they are born. An essential tool for infant learning is their ability to hear. Without early intervention, they're at risk for speech and language developmental issues. If hearing loss is detected, it's essential that it's treated as soon as possible, well before they're six months old.
Two Types of Screening Tests
There are two types of newborn screening tests performed on babies. Both are painless, and most infants sleep through them. Your child may have just one or both, but they only last approximately five to 10 minutes. The two tests are:
- Otoacoustic Emissions: During this test, a small probe is set gently in your newborn's ear canal, which measures sound waves produced in the inner ear when tones or clicks are played.
- Automated Auditory Brainstem Response: Small earphones are gently placed over your baby's ears, which produce clicks or tones. Electrodes on your infant's head measure how the hearing nerve responds to these sound stimuli.
Steps to Take if Hearing Loss Is Found
So what if your newborn doesn't pass one or both of these screening tests? The next step is further testing. The majority of babies who don't pass don't actually have a hearing loss of any kind. The next step will be a thorough medical and hearing evaluation to confirm the extent of their hearing loss.
If hearing loss is verified, you will need to meet with a specialist, depending on what kind it is. You should expect to see an:
- Audiologist — hearing specialist who specializes in screenings
- Otolaryngologist — a pediatric doctor specializing in ears, nose and throat
- Ophthalmologist — a kids' eye doctor, as some babies with hearing loss also have vision problems
Sometimes, special surgeries are done which may either reverse hearing loss or improve it. However, if your baby's hearing loss turns out to be permanent, there's still an excellent probability they'll develop language skills on par with their hearing friends — as long as it's caught early on. Some of the options available to parents and their children include:
- Education to parents on how to develop communication skills
- Speech and language services
- American sign language
- Hearing aids
If your child is in need of high-quality hearing aids, turn to the trusted team at Beltone. Our hearing aid specialists will ensure you find something that fits you and your child's lifestyle. Contact us today.