I was stoked when our first born passed his first ever test and thought I should start applying for scholarships. No, seriously. I had no idea the infant hearing test even existed, yet another example of me being so focused on the birth and not what happened when baby was actually earth side!
In all seriousness. One or two babies in 1000 has significant hearing loss. It is important to intervene early to support these baby’s development. The infant hearing screening test picks up any issues as soon as it is possible to do so.
This test usually takes place in the maternity unit by a trained hearing screener. The baby is in your room and fingers crossed, baby will sleep through the whole thing. Baby looks like it’s listening to some sick beats, the test is quick and the screeners explain the whole process really well.
There are two ways the test can be done:
- Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR)—This screen measures how the hearing nerve and brain respond to sound. Clicks or tones are played through soft earphones into the baby's ears. Three electrodes placed on the baby's head measure the hearing nerve and brain's response.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)—This screen measures sound waves produced in the inner ear. A tiny probe is placed just inside the baby's ear canal. It measures the response (echo) when clicks or tones are played into the baby's ears.
As I said, our first born passed with flying colours, but our second did not. Of course I was nervous about this, but was reassured by the screener that there are many reasons the newest of newborns don't pass the test. This can be quite common with fluid in ears. Throughout that 24 hour period we were well assured and supported.
The screener came back the next day to retest, and Baby passed second time around.
This site has a great run down on the nitty gritty of the test https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/newborn-hearing-test