Hearing Tests for Children

December 7, 2015

Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects in newborns. One of every one-thousand infants is born deaf, and five of every thousand have enough hearing loss to affect their success in school. The good news is that most babies have a hearing screening before they leave the hospital. Many of those who don’t pass the initial screening undergo further diagnostic testing by an audiologist to determine if the problem is temporary, or if a permanent loss is present. Many years of research has determined the earlier a child is diagnosed with hearing loss and a treatment plan begun, the more successful the child will be in communicating, using spoken and written language.

Hearing tests for children can take as little as five minutes with a test called OAE’s, (Otoacoustic Emissions). The test is performed by inserting a small soft ear tip into the child’s ear canal. A computer program emits a clicking sound into the ear canal. A microphone in the ear tip measures very quiet sounds produced by the ear in response to the click. Other testing techniques involve game playing where the audiologist will teach the child to respond to a sound by using small toys that light up. The child learns that by looking in the direction of the sound, they will be rewarded by seeing the toy. Still other testing can measure the brain waves generated in response to sound.

Once identified with a permanent hearing loss, a child can be treated in a variety of ways in order to improve communication opportunities. Surgical or medical treatment may be a solution but in many instances infants are fit with hearing aids or cochlear implants to provide sound stimulation to the brain. If you suspect your child has a hearing loss, a visit to the audiologist is the next best step.