What is the Newborn Hearing Test?
According to the World Health Organization data, there are 600 million hearing-impaired individuals in the world. In Turkey, 2,000 of the 1.300.000 babies born every year are born with hearing loss. “Newborn Hearing Test” is performed after birth in order to prevent hearing loss in newborn babies and not affect the physical and mental development of the baby negatively.
Today, hearing screening tests recommended by the Ministry of Health for every newborn baby are offered to your service in our hospital.
What is the importance of early diagnosis and intervention to prevent hearing loss in newborn babies?
Babies complete their physical and spiritual development with auditory, visual and sensory stimuli coming from their environment. The lack or absence of these stimuli may affect the language development of children, but may also lead to academic failure, social and emotional problems, and psychological disorders. The earlier the child begins to perceive sound stimuli fully, the more healthy and smooth his language and social development will be. For this reason, hearing screening tests are applied to every baby born before discharge. These tests are; It is very important in terms of early initiation of the necessary intervention and rehabilitation process for babies who are found to have hearing impairment.
What is the development process of hearing loss in newborns?
In the development process from birth to 2 years old, the baby, who is exposed to high sound intensity, which we call the startle reflex, should make a jumping movement. This reflex against sound does not occur in newborns with severe or total hearing loss. The newborn’s reaction to sound is a reflex event and is proportional to the intensity of the sound. It gives roughly information about whether the sound is received or not. However, it does not determine the degree of hearing loss.
The hearing process in the newborn;
- From the 3rd month, the human voice becomes the most important stimulus.
- Between 6-9 months, babies turn their heads in the direction of the sound.
- After 10 months, babies start to react when their name is called.
- Responds to some verbal commands after 12 months.
- After 18-24 months, the auditory system is investigated orally, as the vocabulary develops.
How is hearing test done for newborn babies?
Hearing testing for newborns requires special testing techniques to obtain valid and reliable results. In the Otoacoustic Emission Test, which is called the screening test, certain loud sounds are given to the ears of the baby and the brain waves are measured to determine whether he/she can hear. This test does not cause pain or discomfort to the baby. The test, which takes a very short time and is carried out in a quiet environment, is usually done while the baby is asleep; because the baby’s crying or making noises during the test makes it difficult to control his hearing ability.
No anesthetic or sedative is used during the test. After a soft-tipped instrument is placed inside the outer part of the baby’s ear, “click” sounds are sent to the ear from here. When the ear hears this sound, the inside of the ear (cochlea) echoes and the tester can examine, via the computer, how the baby’s ear responds to the sound.
In addition, measuring the severity of hearing loss; The Auditory Brainstem Response Test (ABR) is one of the most commonly used objective tests. The ABR test is an examination performed by measuring and evaluating the electrical waves generated in the brain stem of a asleep newborn, thanks to electrodes placed on the head.
The point to be noted is that these tests can only identify babies with congenital hearing loss risk, for hearing loss that may occur later, parents should follow their hearing just as they follow the baby’s other developments.
When should the hearing test be done?
If there is a failure in the screening tests (OAE) to be performed after birth in newborns, it is repeated 2 weeks later. If the failure recurs, hearing loss is investigated with the ABR test.
What is the critical age range in terms of speaking skills of developing children?
In the studies, it was observed that the vocabulary, self-expression and language skills of babies with hearing loss detected before 6 months of age and corrected with a hearing aid are much more successful than those detected after 6 months. Language skills and self-expression do not develop in children with severe hearing loss. The phrase “a child who cannot hear cannot speak” in the colloquial language also has a grain of truth in this respect. A child who does not hear a sound until the age of 4-5 at the latest cannot learn to speak. For this reason, the World Health Organization recommends the detection of hearing loss in the first 3 months and treatment before the 6th month.
What are the risky situations in terms of hearing loss?
In newborns, 50% of hearing loss cases have no known risk factors. 10% of live births have risk factors that cause hearing loss. These;
- Having toxoplasma, rubella, rubella, cytomegalovirus or herpes virus infection that can cause hearing loss,
- Staying in intensive care for more than three days after birth,
- Ototoxic (drug containing a chemical that has a harmful effect on the ear in its side effects) use,
- Ototoxic drug use during pregnancy,
- Children with bacterial meningitis
- Having a family history of deafness
- The baby is born weighing less than 1 kilo and 500 grams, being without oxygen for a long time during birth,
- The need for artificial respiration
- Face-ear anomaly in the baby
- Sarılığın çok yüksek seyretmesi gibi işitme kaybı açısından riskli durumlarda testin mutlaka uygulanması gerekir.
What are the symptoms that should be observed especially in babies at risk for hearing loss?
- Do not startle, cry or react to unexpected loud noises,
- Not moving his head in that direction when called,
- Not making speech sounds between 6-12 months,
- More detailed hearing tests are needed when symptoms such as not showing familiar objects or people when asked are noticed.
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