Why Newborn Hearing Screening Is Important?
Your newborn child must have a hearing screening before you bring him home. Most things infants learn through hearing. It makes them familiar with many things around them. Most newborn babies can hear perfectly. However, some babies can have hearing issues. Some might even hear out of the normal range!
Early diagnosis of hearing issues can help your baby in developing other ways of communication. Besides, the doctor can start early treatments to restore the baby’s hearing ability. So, let’s find out how newborn hearing screening is performed and other facts related to the process.
When Does A Newborn Start Hearing?
People often wonder when a baby starts hearing. Some believe they start hearing right after birth, but it might not be true! Researchers believe babies start hearing at the gestational age of 6-7 months! A study was conducted to verify this claim and the fetus had responded to sound stimulation.
1. Newborns love to listen to their mom’s voice
Babies take time to get familiar with the new world. One thing they like a lot is listening to different sounds. Most newborn children can recognize their mom’s voice. A study reveals that newborns give preference to the mother’s voice over other noises.
Suppose the mother calls from one side and father from another, the baby is most likely to turn his head towards the mother. That’s natural for babies because they keep listening to their mother’s voice in the womb. It is the most familiar sound for them at the time of birth and probably remains throughout life.
Suppose the mother and another woman call a newborn baby from different directions, the baby will turn towards his mother. The only voice that seems familiar to a newborn baby is the mother’s voice. That’s a unique bond between the mother and the child created when the child was in the womb.
2. Newborns and high-pitched sounds
Most newborn children like to hear high-pitched sounds. A linguistic study was conducted to reveal how parents communicate with the newborn child. Most parents raised their voice pitch while communicating with the newborn child. It is a global phenomenon and probably all parents do that.
Mothers from six different countries had participated in a study. Their native languages were different, but they were communicating with the child in the same tone. Even though the phrases were different, their tones were quite similar.
3. Newborns and music
You may say a newborn child has no taste in music, but that’s not true. Your newborn baby would love it if you play soft and rhythmic music. Babies suck milk much faster when they listen to this kind of music. It excites them and somehow comforts them. People’s taste in music changes as we grow older, but it was the same when we all were born!
What Are Hearing Development Indicators of A Newborn Child?
Babies can hear from the day they are born. Probably all the normal babies can respond to hearing stimuli 2-3 times after their birth. Newborn children are quite sensitive to an adult person’s voice. The baby will pay attention when you speak and he might show different expressions as you talk.
8-30 days old can hear much better. He will pay better attention to the noises he hears. The baby will better respond to the mother’s voice. He might also start recognizing the father’s voice if the baby hears it frequently. You can check whether your baby hears properly or not by talking to him. Choose different locations to talk to see how the baby responds.
How A Newborn Baby’s Hearing Screening Is Carried Out?
Newborn hearing screening is the simplest way to reveal whether the baby can hear or not. If the baby has a hearing impairment issue, the doctors can perform further tests. The observation will reveal the issue and treatment can begin to restore hearing loss.
1. Newborn hearing screening methods
Automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) and Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are the two most common newborn hearing screening techniques. These are internationally chosen methods for hearing screening. Both are non-invasive and safe.
Most hospitals in the east choose OAEs for screening. If the child is kept in an intensive care unit, the doctors would choose the AABR method for hearing screening.
2. How do newborn hearing screening methods work?
The cochlea can create softer sounds that pass through the external auditory canal of the ossicular chain and tympanic membrane and then detected. Suppose a newborn child has cochlear hearing loss, the OAE test will not succeed. It will fail because there won’t be an otoacoustic emission.
The doctor will then perform the AABR test to ensure the outer ear, middle ear, and other organs are responding. If this test fails, it is an indication that the auditory pathway has some problems.
You can perform a test at home. Put a soft earmuff on one ear to taste the baby is hearing properly from the other ear. Repeat the same test for the other ear. Rescreening might be necessary after a few days if both screening methods fail after the baby’s birth.
How to Prevent Hearing Loss In Newborn Babies?
Babies get the sense of hearing when they are in the womb. You want your child to hear perfectly and therefore you have to take certain precautions. Take care of the following things until your baby is 3 years old:
- Protect your baby against diseases, such as meningitis, measles, ear infection, Japanese encephalitis, etc. These diseases can damage your baby’s organs responsible for hearing. He may suffer from hearing impairment due to the mentioned diseases.
- Choose medicines carefully for your child. Some drugs are known for affecting hearing abilities. Antibiotics are infamous for this side-effect and you should check other medicines.
- Just like other organs, newborns do not have fully developed hearing organs. Newborn children have a short and narrow external auditory canal with a thin eardrum. They can’t withstand loud and intense noises. Therefore, you should keep your baby safe against such sounds.
- Do not clean the baby’s ear wax at home. Go to an ENT doctor to remove problematic ear wax. The doctor knows how to perform this job safely without hurting the child and his hearing organs.
How to Improve Your Newborn Baby’s Hearing?
Newborn babies hear everything going around. Their hearing capabilities rely on what is going on around them. The unborn child is familiar with sounds he hears in the womb, like heartbeats and the sound of the mother’s organs. Therefore, mothers should try the following tips to improve their child’s hearing capacity:
- Hold the child close to you so that he can feel and hear your heartbeats.
- Put a pot half-filled with water and pour extra water through a glass tube to make a gurgling sound.
- Do not speak loudly in the child’s room. Maintain a quiet environment and play some rhythmic music.
You have to recreate the environment babies get in the womb to improve the hearing capability. The above-explained tips are perfect to ensure your baby hears properly and feel comfortable.
How to Treat Hearing Impairment Problem in Newborn Children?
If the doctor has diagnosed a hearing impairment problem in your child, a variety of treatments can take place cure this problem. Medicinal and surgical treatments may require depending on the cause of the problem.
Commonly suggested treatments include the cure of exudative otitis media, removal of the cerumen, cochlear implantation, and hearing reconstruction surgery. Doctors will further check your baby’s health condition and then choose a treatment for rapid improvement.
1. Audiological rehabilitation
It is another important treatment performed to restore the baby’s hearing ability. Doctors pick sensory devices, sound amplification equipment, and hearing aids to improve the condition. Such alternative solutions allow the baby to hear noises.
These hearing aids allow your child to be familiar with surrounding noises. They learn how to speak and how to communicate from an early age. Therefore, Audiological rehabilitation is an important part of the treatment.
2. What if the child is deaf?
If none of the available treatments works to cure hearing impairment problem, parents will have to find other ways of communication. It’s quite a disheartening situation, but parents need to support their child.
The child must get familiar with sign language from an early age. He will have to learn speech skills without listening to any sound. Teachers, parents, and family members should work together to comfort the child. That’s how the child can live a comfortable life if he is deaf!
You have learned about newborn hearing screening methods and precautions you should take to keep the child healthy. People lose their senses due to trauma. Therefore, parents should ensure the child is always safe and away from troubles.
Life becomes quite challenging when a person loses hearing capability. Sign language is a solution and many organizations help parents in learning how to communicate. All the information shared in this post is to guide parents. Now, you know how to carry out hearing screening and why it is so important. So, plan it in advance if you are having a baby in the next few months.