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Childhood Hearing Loss

Hearing loss in newborns is now diagnosed more frequently due to the hospital screening programs. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication disorders, approximately 12,000 new babies are diagnosed with a hearing loss every year. All newborns undergo an electrophysiological screen in the hospital.

If a baby does not pass the test he/she is referred for an audiological evaluation. Our audiologists are experienced in the work-up and diagnosis of hearing loss in infants. Evaluations, which are customized for each individual newborn patient, include state of the art diagnostic testing with ABR, Immittance and OAE testing. ABR and OAE tests provide information about the integrity of specific sites within the auditory system.

Behavioral tests like Visual Reinforcement Audiometry and Conditioned Play Audiometry tests provide a direct measure of hearing and are used to assess older infants and toddlers hearing levels. It is therefore very important to follow the infant or child with serial tests over time until we achieve behavioral test results. The choice of hearing tests depends on the child's age. The ultimate goal is to determine if the child has sufficient hearing for age appropriate speech and language development.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) is a widely used objective test to assess hearing sensitivity and auditory nerve function. A test sound is given to the ear and the responses from auditory neural activity are recorded using electrodes attached to the skin of the head with a sticky substance.  This test is conducted under natural sleep or wtih the use of sedation in either the Surgery Center or the hospital.

Otoacoustic Emmissions (OAE)

Otoacoustic Emmissions (OAE) are acoustic signals generated by the normal inner ear, either in the absence of acoustic stimulation (spontaneous emissions) or in response to acoustic stimulation. OAE's can be measured by presenting sound through a probe which is inserted in the outer ear canal. A healthy ear will then generate an echo response that is picked up by the probe microphone and processed by a special software and hardware. The Emissions test is conducted in a quiet room and requires no participation from the patient. This test is used in the diagnosis of hearing loss from infancy to adulthood.