Hearing loss in infants adversely affects child development if not detected early. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary to perform a hearing test in infants in the newborn period.
So how is the hearing test done? What do you need to pay attention to to understand that your baby has hearing loss? How is the treatment carried out? Let’s start.
When does hearing begin in babies?
Although the baby sees the world for the first time when it comes out of the womb, it is not the first time he hears the sounds outside. Babies start hearing while in the womb. Every sound in daily life is reflected from the walls of the uterus and reaches the baby, and he gets used to these sounds after a while.
Most babies react to noises after they are born. They react by being startled in early infancy, blinking at three months of age, and turning in the direction of the sound at four months of age.
When is a hearing test done in babies?
Babies routinely undergo a special hearing screening after birth. If you have left your baby out of the hospital without being tested, or if you gave birth outside of the hospital, you should have the hearing test done before the first 2 months after birth.
How is a hearing test done in babies?
Newborn hearing screenings are done in 3 stages:
- In the first stage, one or two tests are done to see if the baby is in the risk group for hearing loss. If there is no problem in both ears, the scan is terminated.
- If the baby fails the first test, an appointment is made for the second stage. Multiple tests can be done at this stage. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) examination may be required.
- If the tests fail in the second stage, the baby is referred to a large hospital with a specialist audiologist, where advanced diagnostic audiological tests are performed.
What are advanced audiology tests for babies?
4 different audiometry tests are applied to detect hearing problems in babies. Hearing aids are applied to babies who are observed to have hearing loss and are followed up.
1. OAE test (Klinik otoakustik emisyon test)
The most common hearing screening test is the OAE test. This test is done while the baby is sleeping. Sound is delivered to the ear from a tip placed in the external auditory canal entrance and the return reflection is measured. If there is reflection, everything is normal.
2. Klinik BERA texts (ABR texts)
The response of the baby’s auditory system to the auditory stimulus is recorded through electrodes placed on certain areas of the head.
3. Acoustic immitancemetry
It is performed to evaluate middle ear functions in newborns.
4. Free field audiometry
Responses to auditory stimuli are monitored using free field loudspeakers with techniques specific to infants and young children.
In which part is the hearing test done in babies?
Hearing tests are performed by audiometrists and audiologists in the audiology department under the direction of an otolaryngologist.
What causes hearing loss in babies?
We can divide the factors that cause hearing loss in babies into 2 groups as prenatal and postnatal.
Risky conditions leading to hearing loss before birth
- Family history of unknown or hereditary deafness
- consanguineous marriage,
- Maternal use of drugs that cause hearing loss during pregnancy.
Risky conditions that lead to hearing loss after birth
- premature birth ,
- Being born under 2.5 kilograms,
- Having serious problems immediately after birth (convulsions, asphyxia or intracranial bleeding),
- to have an infection (rubella),
- mental retardation,
- Having a cerebral palsy .
These children should undergo a routine audiometry test in terms of hearing problems.
What causes hearing loss in children?
Although this is not common, it is possible. Hearing loss is a condition that can be seen at any age.
- febrile diseases,
- Fluid accumulation in the middle ear due to allergies or colds ,
- meningitis ,
- measles ,
- taking a heavy blow to the head,
- Diseases that manifest themselves late can lead to hearing problems in children later on.
Even more rarely is the permanent type of hearing loss that compromises normal speech and language development. Degrees of hearing loss in infants; It is evaluated in 3 stages as moderate, partial or complete.
What are the types of hearing loss in babies?
- Conductive hearing loss: If the child has conductive hearing loss, there is either an abnormality in the outer ear canal or there has been a build-up of fluid in the middle ear canal that blocks the passage of sound.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: Also called nerve-induced deafness. An abnormality in the inner ear, or the nerves that carry sound messages from the inner ear to the brain, causes hearing impairment. Sensorineural hearing loss can occur at or after birth.
How to detect hearing loss in babies?
Symptoms of hearing loss in babies include:
- Not giving any startle response to loud sounds for about a month or not turning in the direction of the sound until 3-4 months old,
- Not noticing someone until I see them,
- Making strange and vibrating sounds instead of uttering many vowels and consonants,
- delay in speech,
- Inability to say simple words such as “daddy” and “mama” by 12 to 15 months
- Not responding to every call (This is often mistaken for indifference, but can be the result of hearing loss.)
- Seeming to hear some sounds but not others (hearing loss can also be in one ear),
- It’s not just about hearing; Having trouble keeping the head straight, sitting slowly and not being able to walk without support.
If your child has these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately.
How to do a hearing test at home?
If you’re worried that your baby has a hearing problem, you can try this test:
- Clap your hands on the back of his head and see if he’s startled. If he’s startled, you know he can hear.
- If not, try again. Children, even newborns, have powerful mechanisms for ignoring their surroundings and can do so in the meantime.
If you don’t get a response when you repeat the test, observe the way your baby responds to the sound and answer these questions:
- Does he calm down with your soft voice or does he continue to cry?
- Does he react when you sing to him or play music?
- Is he startled by an unfamiliar noise?
After all, if the baby does not respond to the sounds, discuss the situation with your doctor. The earlier a hearing problem is detected in children, the better.
Does hearing loss improve in babies?
Early diagnosis of hearing loss is very important, especially in newborns and infancy. If treatment is delayed, it interferes with speech, understanding and learning. If your child’s hearing loss is understood after 5-6 years of age, it is difficult for him to gain the ability to speak even if he uses a hearing aid.
How to treat hearing loss in babies?
Treatment for hearing loss in infants varies depending on the cause. If you have mild conductive hearing loss due to fluid in the middle ear, your doctor may want you to have a retest in a few weeks to see if the fluid clears up on its own. If there is no improvement after 3 months, you should take your child to an ENT specialist.
Children with severe hearing problems in both ears can use hearing aids up to the age of 1 year. After the age of 1, cochlear implant surgery is performed to enable them to hear like a normal individual.
With this surgery, a device is placed in the ear that will take over the lost functions in the inner ear. In terms of treatment, the 0-4 age range is a very critical period when children learn to speak. Because if the hearing problem is not eliminated, it prevents learning to speak.
If the hearing problem is not resolved until the age of 5-6, his child will have no choice but to go to a deaf school and learn sign language.