When should we take the baby to a hearing test?
You should make time for the screening test in the few days following birth so that therapy can be started as early as possible, if needed. Ideally the test should be conducted before the age of 6 months, because this is a critical age in regard to speech comprehension and development.
How is the test conducted?
In our office we conduct the test quickly and painlessly using BERA technology.
While both the otoacoustic emission and the BERA method detect the vast majority of congenital hearing loss in healthy infants, the BERA is preferred for neonatal intensive care unit graduates and those at risk for auditory neuropathy. If the baby suffered lack of oxygen during the birthing process, had significant jaundice (high bilirubin), was premature, or has abnormalities of the face or head (like cleft palate), he/she should be tested with auditory brainstem response technology like our new BERA phone. The screening is painless and takes just a few minutes to complete. Ideally, the baby should be asleep, and his/her scalp free of gels, oils or lotions. A soft earphone, which emits clicks, is placed on the baby. Sensors on the scalp measure the response to the sound in the auditory nerve and the brainstem.
Congenital hearing loss is the most common birth defect, affecting 1-3/100 healthy newborns. Early detection and intervention make a world of difference in the social and intellectual development of the hearing impaired child. Make sure your baby is screened!