According to the resource from WHO, it is estimated over 5% of the world’s population will suffer from hearing loss*. In 2050, it is about one in every 10 people will have hearing impairment problem.* Therefore, hearing test has become one of the mandatory tests to all babies right after birth.
Why is it necessary to get hearing tests done?
Newborn hearing tests are performed on newborns to rule out any problems during early development. However, it is imperative to have your children done with childhood hearing tests, because it can pick up any late-onset problems or preventing hearing conditions from getting worse. Some children can develop late onset or acquired hearing loss due to genetic factors, infections, injury and noise exposure. Even if the babies have passed the newborn hearing test at birth, a regular screening can reveal slight or gradual hearing loss that necessitates treatment and monitoring.
When parents do not get routine hearing tests done, the chances are that multiple hearing problems can remain undiagnosed for months or even years. Hearing problems must be identified at an earlier age because this can affect your child’s speech, social skills, and language development. When the problems are detected early on, management and treatment are easier. Early diagnosis also ensures access to special support, if needed.
When should you get your child’s hearing checked?
It is always better to get hearing problems diagnosed early because the prognosis is much better before the child is six months of age. That is why every newborn child needs a hearing screening test before they are discharged from the hospital.
If your baby does not get tested before being discharged, get their testing done during the first three weeks. If your child does not pass the hearing test, it does not imply that they have hearing loss. However, it does mean that they should be tested again after three months. Diagnosis of hearing loss then means that your baby needs treatment.
How is the hearing test done?
There are several other types of hearing tests, which are:
Auditory Brainstorm (ABR) Test
This test checks for sensorineural hearing loss, which to exam how the hearing nerves and brain reacts to sounds.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OEA) Test
This test is commonly used in infants and young children, which to exam how the hair cells in the inner ear reacts to sounds.
This test checks the function of the middle ear, which to exam how well the eardrum moves or responds to the sound.
The audiologist is the designated personnel to do the hearing test, and the type of test depends on the child’s age, development, and health.
Many children will go through a behavioral hearing test, which means checking the child’s response to sounds, for example, calibrated speech and pure tones. Pure tones have a very specific pitch.
Audiologists lookout for behavioral responses after the child listens to a sound. For example, toddlers and babies make eye movements or move their heads. The older kids move a game piece or raise their hands. The kids also respond to speech by choosing a picture or by repeating the words.
A referral to the ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist will be made as soon as your child failed the hearing test. Do talk to your healthcare provider if you noticed your child was not responding well to the sound.
Deafness and hearing loss page. World Health Organization Website. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss. January 4, 2022.