Did you know that approximately 1-2% of newborns have significant hearing loss at birth?
Organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and others recommend that hearing loss be diagnosed and treated in infants before they are 6 months old. If it’s discovered early, the child has a better chance of getting treated and avoiding permanent setbacks in speech, language, and cognition.
Your infant should have a hearing test prior to being discharged from the hospital. If your child did not get screened, or you have reason to want a second test, we can administer that for you.
We perform an otoacoustic emission (OAE) test to diagnose hearing problems in infants. It measures the sensitivity of the child’s inner ear, or cochlea.
It works like this. A tiny probe containing a speaker and microphone is inserted into the child’s ear. It produces gentle vibrations, which are processed by the sensitive bones of the inner ear.
Some of the vibration travels up the cochlear nerve and into the infant’s brainstem, where it is interpreted as sound. But some vibrations naturally bounce back out of the inner ear. The probe captures that sound, called the “otoacoustic emission,” which is then analyzed.
Your audiologist will identify which sounds, deeper or higher sounds, for instance, were absorbed or emitted. Among other things, they will be looking for emission of sounds that are important in understanding speech. If those appear on the test, your infant’s hearing has “passed.”
This test is painless and is best done while the infant is sleeping. It only takes about five to eight minutes.