Newborn Infant Hearing Screening (cont.)
John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Jillyen E. Kibby, MA, CCC-A
Ms. Kibby received her master's degree in Audiology with honors from California State University, Long Beach, and is currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Florida. She completed her clinical fellowship and spent seven years at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, where she trained for her pediatric specialty.
James K. Bredenkamp, MD, FACS
Dr. Bredenkamp recieved his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He then went on to serve a six year residency at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine in the department of Surgery.
In this Article
- What is a newborn infant hearing screening program?
- Why is it important to screen for hearing loss in all newborn infants?
- How common is hearing loss in infants?
- What are some of the causes of hearing loss in the newborn?
- How is hearing in infants tested?
- What is an ABR test?
- What is an OAE evaluation?
- OAEs and ABRs, is one test better than the other?
- What does it mean when an infant does not pass the hearing screen?
- What is the difference between a hearing screen and a diagnostic hearing test?
- If an infant does not pass a hearing screen in the hospital, what happens next?
- If an infant has a hearing loss, what is the next step?
- Find a local Pediatrician in your town
How common is hearing loss in infants?
Most permanent hearing loss is due to damage/malfunction of the nerve that transmits sound from the inner ear to the brain (auditory nerve). For those infants in whom a cause is determined, approximately half have a genetic condition and the remaining half have an acquired condition to explain their hearing loss.
What are some of the causes of hearing loss in the newborn?
Hearing loss in a newborn can be caused by a number of conditions. Some of the known risk factors include high bilirubin levels (jaundice), drugs that are toxic to the ears (for example, medicines that are given to the newborn to battle a serious infection may damage hearing as a side effect), prolonged mechanical ventilation, low Apgar scores, meningitis, prematurity, and/or low birth weight. Malformed structures in the middle or outer ear can also lead to hearing loss. Viral illness during the pregnancy, such as rubella (German measles) or cytomegalovirus (CMV), can be passed to the newborn and result in hearing loss. Hearing loss can sometimes be inherited in abnormal genes passed from the parents to the newborn or be the result of a gene mutation that occurred during fetal development. Genetic counseling is often recommended for parents to determine if heredity is the cause of the hearing loss. In approximately half of all cases of hearing loss, the cause is never determined.
How is hearing in infants tested?
Hearing in infants can be tested using two different methods: the auditory brainstem response (ABR) evaluations or the otoacoustic emission (OAE) measures. Both tests are accurate, noninvasive, automated, and do not require any observable response from the infant. Which test is used depends on the screening program's choice of instrumentation and training. For a screening tool, both methods are extremely effective. There are, however, some distinct differences in how the hearing is measured using an ABR versus an OAE.
Next: What is an ABR test?
Parenting and Pregnancy
Get tips for baby and you.