Dr. Barbara Huggins

Baby Hearing Testing

April 12, 2007

Baby Hearing Testing -  April 12, 2007Ask any mother. They will all say that the most glorious day of motherhood came the moment their first child said the word "Mama". But sometimes, the words don't come. Dr. Mom explains why a delay in language development may well be caused by difficulty hearing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies have a hearing screening before leaving the hospital. Newborn screening can detect possible hearing loss in the first days of a baby's life. Although most babies can hear normally, as many as three babies out of every 1000 babies are born with some degree of hearing loss. It can be difficult to detect hearing loss in the important first months and years of your baby's life.

Two types of screening used to screen a newborn's hearing. These tests are painless and can be done while baby is asleep.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
This test measures how the brain responds to sound. Clicks or tones are played through soft earphones into the baby's ears. Three electrodes placed on the baby's head measure the brain's response.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)
This test measures sound waves produced in the inner ear. A tiny probe is placed just inside the baby's ear canal. It measures the response (echo) when clicks or tones are played into the baby's ears.

Even though a baby has passed the initial hearing screening, problems can develop after the newborn period. Hearing loss during the infant and toddler period should receive prompt attention because it affects the child's ability to understand and produce spoken language.

An infant with normal hearing should do the following:
  • Two Months of Age:
  • Four Months of Age:
  • Six Months of Age:
  • Nine Months of Age:
  • Twelve Months of Age:

If you baby is not responding to sounds at the appropriate age, please discuss your concerns with your baby's primary care provider.

It is important that help for hearing loss begins as early as possible to give you child the best chance at language development, social interactions and education.

Helpful websites:

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.