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Neonatal Hearing Screening

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Neonatal Hearing Screening

Neonatal or newborn hearing screening seeks to diagnose moderate to severe hearing impairments in newborn children shortly after birth. Around 1-3 babies out of every 1000 take birth with a certain degree of hearing loss in one or each ear.

If a newborn hearing screening detects any kind of hearing impairment, subsequent tests are conducted to further reach a solid conclusion.

Why does a child require a neonatal hearing test?

Babies are known to learn and grasp from the time they are born and auditory perception, or hearing, plays in integral role in the process of learning.

Hearing loss in children often leads to social maladjustments, communication difficulties and long-lasting deficits in speech and language acquisition. Early diagnosis and necessary intervention within the initial months of a baby’s life often ameliorate these consequences to a certain degree.

Without proper neonatal hearing screening, it becomes difficult to detect any kind of hearing loss within the initial years of child’s life, since more than fifty percent of babies with any kind of hearing impairment have no risk factors attached to it.

A major misconception here is that many parents believe that they would be able to tell it on their own if their child suffers from any hearing impairment or not. This, however, is not the case. Babies lacking normal hearing would sometimes respond to noises, but this is not an assurance by any means, for they there’s a chance they do not possess hearing abilities enough to support and develop speaking abilities.

Such hearing tests provide the babies with better chances of developing language and speech skills along with an opportunity to make the most out of emotional and social interactions. Timing is of utmost importance.

What does a neonatal hearing screening involve?

Generally, there are 2 tests involved, both of which are painless, do not require more than a couple of minutes and are generally done while the baby is asleep. One or both of them can be used. These are:

  • Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR): It’s a neurological procedure testing the auditory brainstem function in response to a stimulus, which in this case is a click. Using soft earpieces into the baby’s ears, clicks are played and the hearing nerves’ response is measured.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE): The OAE test is conducted to record and measure the sound waves that the inner ear produces itself. A tiny probe is planted in the ear canal by a trained specialist and a type of pulse sound is introduced to the ear and its response is recorded.

Just in case a clear response is not obtained from the hearing tests, a second hearing test would be scheduled. This, by no means, is an indication that a child suffers from hearing loss.

Hearing test for children are known to fail for some common reasons. These are:

  • Background noise while the screening was being carried out
  • Temporary blockage with the ear canal
  • Excessive body motion while through the

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