Auditory Brainstem Response
(The ABR screening for infants is not offered at our practice, at this time)
If you suspect that your child has a hearing loss, a hearing examination should be considered. The test is painless and involves either the use of soft, earphone-like probes that are placed in the ears or the use of electrodes placed on the infant’s scalp, called an Auditory Brainstem Response or ABR evaluation.
Up to 3% of all infants have reduced hearing at birth, but in many children the hearing loss is not identified until they reach the age of two. An early diagnosis of a hearing impairment can be very important for the child and will give the parents an early opportunity to be educated on raising a child with hearing impairment.
It is important to diagnose a hearing impairment as early as possible. Critical language development is between birth and 36 months. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the earlier the opportunity to develop spoken language, if that is what the parents desire. Hearing aids may be fitted and special training is provided.
The hearing screening combines the technology of two existing hearing tests: an ABR and OAE (oto-acoustic emissions). The ABR records brain waves in response to sound waves in the child’s ear. The OAE records the faint vibrations that come from a baby’s ear, specifically from certain hair cells in the cochlea inside the ear in response to sounds.
In the combination test, three electrodes are fastened on the nape of the infant’s neck and forehead, and a ground electrode is placed on the shoulder. The entire test takes 15 minutes to perform, if the child is able to sit still and quiet.