Hearing loss in children is more common than you may think. In fact, two or three out of every 1,000 newborns in the United States is born with hearing loss. Even if your child was not born with a hearing loss, it’s not uncommon for them to develop a hearing loss later in childhood. It’s important to have your child tested for hearing loss so you can catch the signs early. Being proactive about your child’s hearing health is crucial for their development.
What Is a Pediatric Hearing Test?
Pediatric hearing tests are specialized evaluations to test the hearing ability of children and newborns by a certified pediatric audiologist. There are many types of pediatric hearing tests, each dependent upon the age of your child.
Hearing Tests for Newborns: There are two types of hearing tests for newborns.
- Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions (EOAE) testing uses a tiny, flexible plug that is placed in your baby’s ear. Sounds are sent through the plug and a microphone records the otoacoustic responses (emission) of your baby’s ear in reaction to the sounds. There are no emissions in a baby that has hearing loss.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing uses wires (electrodes) that are placed on your baby’s head. A clicking sound is made in your baby’s ears and the test measures the brain’s activity in response to the sounds. Both EOAE and ABR testing is done when your baby is sleeping.
Hearing Tests for Babies: In addition to EOAE and ABR testing, the following are used when testing for hearing loss in older babies.
- Behavioral Audiometry is a screening used to watch the behavioral response to sounds in your baby.
Hearing Tests for Toddlers: There are many methods for testing hearing loss in toddlers. Any of the tests for newborns and babies are also used to test for hearing loss in toddlers. In addition, the following methods are also used.
- Play Audiometry is a test that uses an electrical machine to send sounds at different pitches and volumes into your child’s ear using headphones. Every time your toddler hears a sound, they are asked to move a toy.
- Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA) is when your child is trained to look toward a sound source. When your child gives a correct response, they are rewarded with a visual reinforcement such as a toy or light movement. This test is commonly used for children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years old.
Hearing Tests for Older Children: If your child is above the age of 4 then testing may include the above tests as well as the following.
- Pure Tone Audiometry is a test that uses an electrical machine to make sound at different volumes and pitches in your child’s ears using a pair of headphones. Your child will be asked to respond in some way to the sounds they hear.
- Tympanometry is a test that looks at the middle ear. This does not detect hearing loss but instead helps find any changes in pressure in the middle ear.
Depending on your child’s age there are many types of hearing loss tests. Whether your newborn failed their initial screening, or you are concerned that your child has hearing loss, there is a test available. You can find your local pediatric audiologist here. They will be able to test your child’s hearing and find a solution that will help them hear their best. Be proactive about your child’s hearing health and schedule a visit with an EarQ provider today.