Testing For Evaluation Of Infant Hearing

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In United States, Some sort of hearing loss has become the most common defect occurring at birth according to the findings of the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, with three out of every 1,000 babies affected.

Hearing can be of such different types that it need not necessarily indicate deafness but could be as simple as a very mild feeling of unease. A common remedy for hearing loss in children is a combination of therapy and hearing aids.

In acute cases, doctors are left with no option but cochlear implants. When a damaged part of the ear is unable to sense any sound even if amplified by a hearing aid, the auditory nerve is able to sense signals from the cochlear implants. Hearing can never be brought back to the original state even with these devices.

Screening babies for hearing defects, remains the best option. To enable babies to build their language skills, it is essential that therapies are started within the first few months.

Newborn babies can now be quickly screened for hearing defects without delay right after birth. If the hearing loss is detected within the first six months after birth, it is possible to use modern day procedures that ensure language development almost on par with other children.

It is unfortunate that hearing problems in children are detected only after they are about 22 months old. Many a times, hearing problems manifest as speech or language development problems.

Before being discharged from hospital, all newborn babies can now be administered a new test that indicated whether or not they have hearing related problems.

Otacoustic Emissions can now be used to detect hearing problems in newborn babies. A soft probe ensures that sounds are delivered inside the ear canal. The inner ear produces an echo like sound which a microphone, placed in the same probe, registers. Compared to any other procedure that would take over 10 minutes, this method requires just 10 seconds for each ear.

From the results of the OAE, those babies who seem to have hearing problems, are given the Auditory Brainstem Response test. In the ABR test, a throwaway earphone delivers different sounds into the baby's ears and three painless electrodes placed on the baby's head and shoulders measure the hearing nerve's responses.

Fifteen minutes is all it takes for each ear.

Before starting these tests, doctors confirm that babies are sleeping. Hearing problems get accidentally discovered when children, around their age of 2 years, start having problems with speaking or with their language development.

To eliminate the chance of babies having problems after growing up, it is best to screen all of them. This has the potential of making a huge difference in the children's lives, especially language development which could affect their performance at school.

An audiologist would be required for conducting a diagnostic testing only if a baby fails both these tests. About 2 percent of the babies end up at the audiologist's for diagnostic testing.

Amplification equipment is now available to compensate the hearing loss of 2 to 3 month old infants. Help being available early, can ensure normal development of these children.

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