Hearing Loss in Infants
Hearing loss is a common disorder at birth. This makes it important to screen for hearing loss in newborn infants to make sure the condition is spotted early on. Studies show that it’s actually better to treat hearing loss as early as possible. This way, infants can develop normal language skills without delay.
Signs of hearing loss in infants vary by age. For example, a newborn with hearing loss might not react or startle when there is a loud noise nearby. An older infant, who should respond to familiar voices by their age, may show no reaction when spoken to. Hearing loss makes a baby unable to hear sounds below a certain level.
A doctor can examine a child to look for symptoms and causes of hearing loss. The list of potential causes is extensive, where each cause is related to a particular part of the ear. This could include buildup of fluid behind the eardrum, birth defects that cause changes in the structure of the ear, or genetic disorders. A hearing test can
There is a difference between a hearing screen and a diagnostic hearing test. A hearing test is usually performed if an infant fails the screening or displays symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing in infants can be screened using an auditory brainstem response (ABR) evaluation or the otoacoustic emission (OAE) measure. Both tests are accurate and noninvasive. A doctor can also use an otoscope to see inside the baby’s ear canal, and check if the eardrum is in good condition. A diagnostic test is usually longer that a screening, and involved more interaction with the infant. The more information that can be collected the better.
Over 30 states in the U.S. require newborn to have screening for hearing loss. Treatment for hearing loss can start as early as the age of six months. This would depend on the baby’s overall health and the exact cause of hearing loss.