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Infant Hearing Testing

Babies come into the world ready to listen and learn language. We know from studies of infant brain activity that the enviromental stimuli a baby receives each day in his early life plays a huge role in developing, strengthening, and reinforcing the brains tracks or pathways. These pathways actually physically organize the baby’s developing brain. When a baby hears voices, music or noises, thousands of brain cells respond. Circuits in the listening and speaking centers representing the areas that form words are wired by the age of one. Normal hearing is very important. It enables the above-described steps to take place and facilitate development of normal language and speech. Otoaccoustic emission testing of an infants hearing is the most accurate and simple way to check hearing in a newborn infant. If you have questions about your baby's hearing and would like it evaluated, please call our office at (763) 588-0851. Expected Hearing and Speech Milestones are presented here for you information

Newborn hearing Screening (Otoaccoustic Emissions)

Newborn Hearing Screening has become a "timely" pediatric topic. The reason for this interest is that hearing loss is the most common birth defect. It is, present in 3-5 newborns out of every 1000 births. Every day in the United States, 33 babies (or 12,000 each year) are born with permanent hearing loss. Of those with a hearing loss, only 6 - 8% are totally (profoundly) deaf. The majority, 92-94 %, have impairments that may be mild, moderate, or severe in degree. All hearing loss affect the child’s ability to learn.

If hearing loss is diagnosed before the infant is 6 months old and an appropriate treatment program is in place by 6-9 months of age, children do not experience the speech, language, and learning delays usually seen when their hearing loss is not diagnosed until the child is 2-5 years old. Early diagnosis and management of hearing loss leads to improved language, vocabulary, and academic performance. That makes these children more productive members of society when they reach adulthood. Therefore, it is important for physicians to identify a hearing loss in a newborn before that infant is 6 months of age.

With current technology, infants can be evaluated for hearing loss, regardless of their age. Even newborns only a few hours old can be reliably tested for hearing loss. A baby’s hearing can be screened anytime after birth using a quick, effective, and non-invasive measure called otoacoustic emissions (OAE). Both ears are tested using tones in the middle and high speech frequencies. Testing can be done with a broad-band click that tests mostly the lower frequencies or with tones of specific frequencies that can test high frequencies as well as lower frequencies. The procedure available at this office tests multiple frequencies. A small tip is placed in the ear canal and a series of soft tones are presented. A microphone inside the ear tip measures the echo that is returned from the baby’s inner ear. The echo is then analyzed to determine how well the inner ear is working. In most situations, the test for each ear takes only a few minutes with no discomfort to your sleeping infant.

Expected Hearing and Speech Milestones

First Three Months:

Is startled by sounds
Is quieted by Mother’s voice
Makes murmured sounds (other than crying)
Listens to a soft bell nearby
Makes definite cooing noises, one syllable
Searches for sounds with eye movement
Listens to music
Makes two or more different sounds

3-6 Months of Age:

Searches for sound with head movement
Laughs aloud
Turns head deliberately to a bell
Coos or stops crying upon hearing music
Talks or babbles to others
Manipulates a hand bell
Makes 4 or more different single-syllable sounds

6-9 Months of Age:

Responds when called
Uses two-syllable babble
Shouts for attention
Listens to conversation
Uses singing tones
Uses babbled phrases of 4 or more syllables
May say one clear word

9-12 Months of Age:

Shakes head for "No"
Now says two clear words
Uses short meaningful babble-like sentences
Plays with noisy toys
Reacts to music vocally
Babbles monologue when alone

12-15 Months of Age:

Often imitates what is heard
Understands words in some context
Comprehends simple commands, "Point to"
Jabbers freely, the jargon stage
Can name a picture when asked
Can answer "yes/no" and "where" questions

15-18 Months of Age:

Says 8-10 words
Enjoys simple stories
Rapid acquisition of receptive vocabulary (50-300 words)
May chain two or more words together
Uses words to tell physical needs or answer questions

18-24 Months of Age:

Develops rules to put words together
Begins to use pronouns (mine, me)
Processes longer sentences
Asks 1-2 word questions
Now has 10-15 expressive words
Follows directions for two requests (Get the ball and put it on the table.)

Two to three years:

Has 200-300 expressive words
Uses 2-3 word sentences
Asks questions "Why?" and "What?"
Points and names pictures in a book
Notices environmental sounds (dog barking, TV, Music)
Understands conversation easily
Responds when called from a distance




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