Audiometric testing for children presents unique challenges.
A child may be too young to follow instructions or too nervous to sit still. That’s why hearing care professionals have worked hard to develop techniques that are both physically and emotionally appropriate for kids. As for adults, there are various tests to determine the degree of hearing loss.
Newborn Hearing Screening (NHS).
Two in every 1,000 babies are born with a hearing loss. Because hearing is important for a child’s intellectual, emotional, and social development, it is crucial to discover congenital hearing loss as early as possible. In most states, newborn hearing screening (NHS) or infant hearing screening, is usually done days after birth prior to hospital discharge. The test takes only a few minutes and can be done while the baby is asleep.
The Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) test is typically used for newborn hearing screening, however some places also use ABR screening. The results of a screening are available directly after the test.
What do the test results mean?
Regular result for OAE means proper function of the outer hair cells in the inner ear. This does not give any indication of the function of the auditory nerve or auditory processing, however, these kinds of dysfunctions are very rare and usually occur along with other diseases.
Irregular result for OAE could indicate a hearing disorder, but not necessarily as other factors could affect the outcome, especially within the first three days after birth. Regardless, the result needs to be taken seriously and a rescreening should be conducted within two or three weeks. If the rescreening still shows irregularities, the baby needs to see a pediatric audiologist for further hearing testing.
Free hearing test in schools.
In some schools, hearing will be screened again during later developmental checkups. If you have the slightest inkling that your child might have a hearing impairment, don’t assume your school will conduct screenings. Contact a hearing care professional for more reliable hearing test results and a diagnosis. Left undiagnosed and untreated, hearing loss can have a very serious impact on a child’s development.