Practically all children born in a U.S. hospital will receive a hearing screening as soon as they are born. This process was put in place to make sure hearing loss is caught and treated as early as possible.
Importance of Identifying Hearing Loss Early
Being able to hear is crucial to your child’s development. Untreated hearing loss can cause delays in speech and language communication skills, which can have serious repercussions later in life.
Experts agree that early intervention is the key to treating pediatric hearing loss. Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs are available in all 50 states and are designed to screen all babies for hearing loss before they are one month old.
Children who fail their newborn hearing screening will be retested in three months. If it is determined they are deaf or hard of hearing, they will be enrolled in an early intervention program by the time they are six months old.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides all children with hearing loss free education services until they are 21.
What Tests Make Up a Screening?
A newborn hearing screening is made up of two tests.
Auditory brainstem response uses electrodes placed on your child’s head to measure how well their auditory nerve responds to sounds. The test measures both ears, and if your child passes that means their brain is receiving sound.
Otoacoustic emissions testing requires a tiny earphone and microphone to be placed in the ear to test how your child responds to sound. During normal hearing, an emission can be heard in the ear canal, which can be picked up by the microphone. If your child has hearing loss, no emissions are recorded. Both ears are measured, and if your child passes their ears are receiving sounds.
What if My Child Fails?
Failing the initial newborn hearing screening does not mean your child has hearing loss. Often times, infants still have fluid in their ears after birth, preventing the soundwaves from reaching the eardrum.
If your child fails their screening, a follow-up screening will be scheduled with a pediatric audiologist a few weeks later to repeat the test. Those who fail the second screening will need to undergo additional diagnostic hearing tests.
There are a number of intervention services available for children born deaf or hard of hearing. The most common include:
- Hearing aids
- Cochlear implants
- American Sign Language
- Assistive listening devices
To learn more about hearing screenings or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Hearing Advancement Center today.