Hearing impairment is the most common disability in Australia.
One to two babies in 1000 are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears. Early diagnosis of hearing loss is the key to successful early intervention. Babies who are detected early can access further testing quickly and parents can access support and information. Children whose hearing loss is identified early and who begin early intervention strategies before six months of age, have the best chance of developing age appropriate speech and language.
Infant Hearing Screening
A newborn’s hearing is tested by a specially developed screening device which uses Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) technology to test the baby’s hearing. Small sticky tabs are placed on the nape of the baby’s neck, shoulder and forehead. Small headphones go over each ear and the baby hears a soft clicking sound. The AABR machine measures responses from the baby’s hearing nerve on each side. The test is accurate, quick and reliable. It is safe, painless and most newborns sleep through the test.
Infant Diagnostic Testing
Infant diagnostic testing is provided for babies under the age of one who have been referred for further testing after a newborn screening. Infant diagnostic testing allows Audiologists to determine whether a hearing loss is present and will provide a diagnosis and recommendation for intervention and treatment.
The testing takes on average three hours per session and measures electrophysiologicalcal, electro acoustic and behavioural responses to a range of testing including:
- High frequency tympanomatry
- Acoustic reflex testing
- Otoacoustic emissions (OAE)
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
- Auditory Steady State Response Testing (ASSR)
- Behavioural Observation Auditometry (BOA)
Baby Hearing Milestones
The following milestones can be used as a guide to monitor your baby’s hearing as he/she grows:
Birth – Three Months Old
- Startled by or jumps when there is a sudden noise
- Stirs, wakes up or cries when someone talks or makes a noise
- Recognises your voice and quietens when you speak
Three – Six Months Old
- Turns eyes towards interesting sounds
- Appears to listen, may still or stop sucking to an interesting sound
- Awakes easily to loud, sudden noises
Six – Twelve Months Old
- Turns head to soft sounds
- Understands “no” and “bye-bye”
- Uses “mamma” and “dada” appropriately
- Responds to simple commands like “where’s teddy?”
- Begins to copy speech sounds
A pass on the hearing screening indicates your baby’s hearing is adequate for speech and language development at that time. Some children may develop hearing loss as a result of ear infection or in some rare cases, hearing can deteriorate over time. If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, you should arrange for another test to be done.