Determining if your baby has hearing loss as early as possible can improve their ability to develop language and learning skills. At Community Audiology Services, in Silver Spring, Maryland, Dr. Patricia Randolph brings decades of experience as an audiologist to newborn screenings. If your baby needs a hearing test, call Community Audiology Services or schedule an appointment online today.

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Why do newborns need a hearing test?

While most babies can hear normally, detecting hearing loss within the first few days of life can help identify treatment and early intervention options as quickly as possible.

Dr. Randolph typically uses two screening tests with newborns: automated auditory brainstem response and otoacoustic emissions.

Automated auditory brainstem response

Automated auditory brainstem response testing measures how your baby’s hearing nerve responds to sound. During this test, Dr. Randolph plays tones or clicks through soft earphones placed on your baby’s ears. To measure your baby’s response, she puts three electrodes on your baby’s head.

Otoacoustic emissions

During otoacoustic emissions testing, Dr. Randolph checks the sound waves produced within your baby’s inner ear. By inserting a tiny probe just inside your baby’s ear canal, this test checks for responses to tones or clicks played in your baby’s ears.

Newborn screenings usually take less than 10 minutes, are painless, and can take place when your baby is sleeping.

What if my baby doesn’t pass the hearing screening?

If your baby doesn’t pass a newborn screening, it doesn’t necessarily mean your baby has hearing loss. While most babies who don’t pass their initial screenings typically have normal hearing, it’s essential to pursue additional testing and further medical evaluation.

To reach a diagnosis, schedule additional screenings as quickly as possible — ideally before your baby reaches three months of age. Additional screenings often include appointments with a:

  • Pediatric ear, nose, and throat doctor
  • Eye doctor, because vision problems might also be present
  • Geneticist to see if there’s a hereditary cause

Dr. Randolph also works with you to determine additional hearing tests to help confirm a diagnosis.

How is hearing loss treated?

Dr. Randolph recommends treatment based on the type and extent of your baby’s hearing loss. When hearing loss is permanent, Dr. Randolph might suggest hearing aids or cochlear implants. In some cases, surgery can also be helpful.

In addition to hearing devices, Dr. Randolph also provides additional information on ways to communicate with your baby. This often includes the philosophy of total communication. Total communication incorporates all methods of communication, such as natural gestures and body language, oral communication, lip reading, and American Sign Language.

Children with hearing loss who receive early intervention before six months of age often develop language skills equal to their hearing peers.

For more information on newborn screenings, call Community Audiology Services or schedule an appointment online today.