Early Detection of Hearing Challenges with Newborn Hearing Screenings

CDC statistics show that about 0.1% of newborns in Europe and North America have a hearing loss of more than 40 decibels (dB), while hearing loss prevalence in US infants in 2019 showed 1.7 per 1,000 babies were born with a hearing loss.
A newborn with closed eyes during a hearing screening at Denton Hearing Health Care

Testing for infant hearing loss typically includes a diagnostic ABR/DPOAE examination, but not all hospitals or pediatricians call for this early screening. Because infant hearing loss has a significant negative impact on speech and language development, newborn screenings are an essential part of ensuring your baby’s proper growth and development.

By identifying hearing loss early, within the first six months after birth, you can ensure that he/she will be able to:

  • Communicate better with others
  • Do well in school
  • Get along with other children

If you are concerned about your newborn’s hearing or want to ensure your baby’s hearing is working as it should, you may be wondering, “Is there a place that conducts newborn hearing screenings near me?

Denton Hearing Health Care provides Denton and surrounding North Texas communities with newborn hearing screenings as well as the treatment solutions necessary to address any hearing loss that your baby might be experiencing.

What to Expect during ABR/DPOAE Testing

The exam is so easy that your baby doesn’t even have to be awake to take it. The two tests used during infant hearing screenings take just a few minutes, are pain-free, and can be done while your infant is resting quietly.

For an infant diagnostic hearing exam, it’s best if your baby is tired and hungry so that the parent can feed the infant with a bottle during the exam. This helps make things go a lot smoother.

Your baby’s audiologist will insert a tiny probe that emits a series of sounds just at the entrance to your baby’s ear canal. DPOAEs are distorted sounds generated by the cochlea’s outer hair cells in response to two tones that are close in frequency. The presence of a DPOAE response is an indication that the cochlear amplifier is functioning properly.

Imagine a pair of tiny headphones that will fit your baby. That’s what your audiologist will use, along with three electrodes placed on his/her scalp. As she listens to the transmitted sounds, the ABR system will measure brain activity. If brain activity is lacking, it could be an indicator of hearing problems.

A child during a hearing assessment

What Do the Test Results Mean?

A newborn who hasn’t passed the initial hearing tests may not necessarily have an auditory loss. About 90% of newborn babies who don’t pass their first screening pass their second test. Initial hearing test failures can be related to too much wax, vernix, or fluid in the ear.

Consequently, we follow three result scenarios after an infant hearing test, including:

  1. Two or more tests determine that your infant does have some hearing loss in one or both ears. It is critical for treatment to start within the first six months of life in order to provide an adequate opportunity for learning how to speak and acquiring language skills.
  2. Your baby may have passed the newborn hearing screening, but he/she could experience hearing loss later on in childhood. Consequently, if your child passes, your audiologist will still want you to monitor speech/ language progress in order to catch the problem as early as possible.
  3. A third scenario involves passing the initial screenings but with some indicators that your baby might develop a late-onset hearing loss due to genetic disposition, infections and illnesses, exposure to secondhand smoke, or NICU treatments. In these cases, the hearing exam will be repeated between 9 months – 1 yr.

Treatment Solutions for Hearing Loss in Babies

Our pediatric hearing specialists provide both solutions and ongoing guidance that can include early intervention from the state, parent/pupil teams, speech/language intervention, and hearing aid options.

An early intervention plan within the first six months of age may include input from your baby’s pediatrician, audiologist, and a pediatric otolaryngologist. This team of doctors will help guide your decisions regarding which treatments or devices will provide the best outcomes based on the type and degree of hearing loss he/she is experiencing.

Interventions may include:

  • Meeting with a professional who is trained to work with children who have a hearing loss as well as their families
  • Working with a professional who can help a family and child learn to communicate
  • Fitting a baby with a hearing device, such as a hearing aid
  • Joining family support groups
  • Other resources available to children with a hearing loss and their families
Studies show that quick and consistent treatment can help your baby’s spoken language development to the point of matching the development of other babies of the same age when hearing problems are discovered early and the intervention begins by six months after birth.
A newborn during an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test

What Our Delighted Patients Say

Five Important Facts about Infant Hearing Loss

#1. Genetics are a major factor in infant hearing loss.

About 50% to 60% of children are genetically inclined toward hearing loss at birth. Additionally, about 20% of babies with a genetic hearing loss also have Down Syndrome, Usher Syndrome, or another type of “syndrome.”

#2. Infections, environmental causes, and birth complications also contribute to infant hearing loss.

An infection in the mother during pregnancy, other environmental causes, and complications during the birthing process account for about 30% of infant hearing loss cases.

#3. Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection can cause infant hearing loss.

Although it is a preventable risk factor for hearing loss among infants, about 14% of those exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop some type of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), while between 3% and 5% develop a bilateral moderate-to-profound SNHL. However, only about 14% of women are aware of the condition and its effects, according to a 2005 HealthStyles survey conducted by the CDC.

#4. Infant hearing loss often follows a low birth weight.

About one in four children with a hearing loss are born weighing less than 2,500 grams (about 5 1/2 pounds), according to a CDC study.

#5. Many common disabilities co-occur in those with an infant hearing loss.

CDC tracking over a 21-year period identified that 23% of babies with a hearing loss have an intellectual disability, while 10% also have cerebral palsy, 7% have autism spectrum disorder, and 5% experience some form of vision impairment.

Schedule an Infant Hearing Test

You’re in a race against the clock when it comes to addressing the critical issues of infant hearing loss. Early detection leads to the best intervention outcomes and allows your child to properly develop speech and language skills as well as ensure better socialization and academic performance as your child grows.

Our pediatricians at Denton Hearing Health Care are eager to provide answers and solutions to infant hearing loss through early detection and treatment. Contact us by using the adjacent form in order to schedule an infant hearing test.

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