Pediatric Hearing Tests
Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects in America. Newborn hearing screenings have become the standard in most states, including Florida, where legislation exists requiring hospitals to make these screenings available to all newborns.
KIDZ Medical Services has always taken the initiative to provide the best and most advanced neonatal and newborn services. KIDZ Medical Services started the First Sounds Newborn Hearing Screening Program in 1999, before it became mandated by the state of Florida.
Babies can't tell us if they are not hearing well. Prior to the introduction of newborn hearing screening programs in Florida, the average age of identification of hearing loss was 14 months or greater. Since the initiation of the newborn hearing screening, the average age of confirmation of hearing loss has decreased to 2-3 months of age.
Because the most critical time for stimulating the hearing and language centers of the brain is during the first few months of life, it is essential to identify hearing loss as early as possible. Delayed detection of hearing loss can negatively impact speech and language development, academic achievement, and social-emotional development. Even children with mild hearing loss or hearing loss in one ear will benefit from early detection and intervention.
Studies have shown that children with hearing loss who receive intervention services before six months of age are more likely to demonstrate better communication, academic, and social outcomes.
First Sounds hearing screenings are performed by carefully trained personnel under the supervision of a licensed and certified audiologist, using two different technologies to screen for hearing loss.
Most babies will have their hearing screened using otoacoustic emissions (OAE), in which soft sounds are introduced into the ear using a small probe in the ear canal. The computerized equipment measures an "echo" that the ear makes in response to these sounds.
Some babies, including babies who are in the NICU, babies with a family history of hearing loss and babies with other risk factors, will also have their hearing screened with auditory brainstem response (ABR). With an ABR screening, a soft sound is presented to the ear and electrodes measure responses to the sound. Both procedures are painless and are performed while the baby is resting or asleep.
The hearing screening is done while your baby rests. It takes about 15 minutes and is noninvasive.
Babies who do not pass the hearing screening on the first attempt will have a repeat screening the following day. If your baby does not pass the second screening, he or she will be referred to a licensed pediatric audiologist 1 to 3 weeks after discharge. A pediatric audiologist is a hearing specialist who is trained in the evaluation of hearing in infants and children. The hearing screening technician will make every attempt to make this appointment for you, before you leave the hospital.
Even if your baby passes the newborn hearing screening at birth, it is important to monitor your baby's hearing and language development as he/she grows, as hearing can change at any time (see Milestones below).
First Sounds recommends that every baby have their hearing evaluated by a licensed pediatric audiologist at one year of age (or six months of age if the baby was in the NICU, has a family history of hearing loss, or other identified risk factor).
The milestones will help you monitor your baby's hearing and language development. If you are concerned that your child is not developing as expected, discuss this with your pediatrician and have your baby's hearing evaluated immediately.
Hearing and Language Development Milestones from Birth to 3 Years
- Startles to sudden loud noise
- Soothes or calms to your voice or music
- Turns head or moves eyes to find a familiar voice or sound
- Plays at making noises and sounds (vowels, such as "ah" or "ou")
- Responds to his/her own name
- Begins to understand common words, like "no" and "bye"
- Babbles double consonants (such as "dada" and "mama")
- Repeats simple words and sounds that you make
- Points or searches for familiar objects when asked
- Follows simple spoken directions
- Regularly uses 5-50 words
- Imitates animal and motor sounds
- Understands when you call from another room
- Points to body parts when asked
- Begins to speak in two-word combinations, like "Mommy more"
- Remembers and repeats portions of simple rhymes or songs
- Answers simple questions
- Uses 3-5-word simple sentences
To learn more about the newborn hearing screening program, call KIDZ Medical Services at (305) 661-1515.