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It Is Important To Have Your Baby Undergo Hearing Screening
Almost all children can hear and listen to sounds at birth. From this, they learn how to talk by imitating the sounds they hear around them whether it is from the voices of their parents or other family members. Unfortunately, there are a few children born with hearing loss on one or both ears. Children who have hearing loss may not learn speech and language as well as children who can hear because simple as without the sound input, there is no sound output.. For this reason, it’s important to detect deafness or hearing loss as early as possible.
When Is The Best Time For Your Baby’s Hearing To Be Screened?
It’s best to start as early as possible. Newborn hearing screening can be conducted effectively after 24 hours the baby is born. The most important time for a child to learn language is in the first 3 years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing. To be accurate, infants begin to learn and adapting the sounds, speech and language in the first 6 months of their lives. Language (verbal type) CAN ONLY BE ACQUIRED naturally before age 4 or 5 if the babies started to hear early.
Picture 1: Human brain development milestone from baby to adults.Source: C.A. Nelson (2000). Credit: Center on the Developing Child
There studies that shown children with hearing loss and equipped with hearing aids early will develop better language skills that whose who don’t. You need to take quick action and precaution if the screening shows a possible problem. Do plan a hearing screening now.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)
One of the tests use for baby's hearing screening is called Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE). It is used to test whether baby's ears do respond to sounds or otherwise. During this test, a soft earphone is inserted into your baby’s ear canal. by measuring an echo response in ears, we can determine whether your baby might have hearing loss or they are perfectly fine.
Picture 2: OAE test using Otoread machine. Photo credit: Interacoustics
Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR)
The other test of baby’s hearing screening is called Automated Auditory Brainstem Response. The biggest advantage of AABR over OAE is that the screening could be done any time after birth. This test works by recording brain activity in response to sounds. Headphones will be placed over the baby’s ears and a series of click/ chirp sounds will be played through them. If the hearing system is working normally then the computer will report strong responses.
Picture 3: AABR test using Eclipse. Photo credit: Interacoustics
What Should You Do If Your Baby's Hearing Screening Results Shows Possible Issue?
If the results do not favour your baby's hearing ability then don't be panic. It can be difficult to get a response if the baby was unsettled at the time of the test, if the room was noisy or if there is any fluid (called vernix) in the ear from the birth. The test is usually repeated before referral for the second screening test. Being referred for another test doesn’t necessarily mean that the baby has a hearing loss.
We at SoundLife can help you. We are a hearing expert who specializes in the assessment and management of children with hearing loss. We will conduct tests to determine whether your baby has a hearing problem and, if so, the type and severity of that problem and if the child needs to wear any hearing devices (hearing aids/ implants)
Hearing aids can help children that suffer from hearing loss. Hearing aids are worn in or behind the ears. They can help make sound louder. Here, we an help you choose the best hearing aid and make sure that it fits securely and is properly adjusted.
Do be aware always, hearing loss can occur anytime in life. Some inherited forms of hearing loss don’t appear until a child is older. In addition, illness, ear infection, head injury, certain medications, and loud noise are all potential causes of hearing loss in children. We suggest after baby’s hearing screening, the child should be re-screened again before they entering kindergarten and primary school to ensure they have perfect hearing to maximize their learning potential. Do check out the previous blog to learn more about symptoms of children hearing loss