Pediatric hearing tests are designed for children who can not perform the tests in a standard form. This is due to the child’s developmental age and the lack of cooperation with the research activities requiring complex logical thinking and fully developed cognitive structures.
However, the hearing test is feasible and may provide a high diagnostic value in preventive hearing assessment, pharmacological treatments, surgeries, implanting. Depending on the age of the child, there are many methods for testing hearing, allowing to assess all the auditory pathway.
Hearing tests can fundamentally be divided into subjective and objective methods.
Objective methods include:
- impedance audiometry with tympanometry
- otoacoustic emission – OAE
- Eustachian tube function test
- auditory brainstem response (ABR) test
Subjective methods include:
- pure tone audiometry (PTA)
- whisper and speech audiometry
- conditioned play audiometry (CPA)
- visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA)
- behavioral observation audiometry (BOA)
The test method is always decided by doctor or hearing care professional, depending on the indication, history, and purpose of the test.
Newborn hearing screening program by WOŚP
Newborn hearing screening program initiated by Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity allows every child a hearing test done shortly after birth. As the screening test, otoacoustic emission (OAE) was chosen. The test is performed on the second day of life, and if the result is abnormal (yellow label), repeated on discharge from the hospital. Regardless of the outcome of the screening, the staff of neonatal unit collects information on the risk factors for hearing loss.
Children with hearing loss risk factors require at least several months of observation due to a risk of later onset of hearing loss (even if the result of the screening is correct).
Children with abnormal results and children diagnosed with the presence of risk factors for hearing loss are referred to centers where diagnostic tests are performed. Children who are at risk of later onset of hearing loss are under periodic control as long as the risk remains.
Children with normal screening receive a blue sticker, which is placed in the child’s health book. This label indicates the lack of low, moderate, severe or profound hearing loss.
When do you repeat your child’s hearing test?
The hearing test should be repeated in the case of:
- abnormal screening OAE hearing test in the hospital
- no baby talk (babbling)
- delayed speech development
- speech defects, poor articulation, stuttering
- autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- hypertrophy of the pharyngeal tonsils
- acute allergic conditions, asthma
- always after infection of the middle or external ear
- learning difficulties
- difficulties in understanding speech in noise
- snoring, mouth breathing habit
- always with speech and language therapy, rehabilitation of hearing and speech (preferably before the start of classes)
- always in the case of suspicion of a risk of hearing loss by the parent, guardian or a teacher
Why is early detection of hearing loss so important?
Newborns normal hearing not only determines the proper development of voice and speech but also allows the physiological processes of integration and abstraction in the central nervous system and affects the normal development of cognitive and emotional functions. Early detection of hearing loss, appropriate treatment, prosthetics, and rehabilitation provide the opportunity for effective use of the best development period of life in which the plasticity of the central nervous system is the greatest. In many cases, an early rehabilitation of hearing allows impaired children comparable to the hearing children development.
Author: Aleksandra Stojak