|Newborn Hearing Test: Responding to Sound|
Following her failed universal newborn hearing screening in the hospital, my baby was schedule for a follow-up newborn hearing test six weeks later. Her newborn hearing test, which was held this week, was far more comprehensive than the initial screening. The test was held in a specialized, soundproof room in the hospital audiology clinic.
Since the clinic is used for patients of all ages the room itself was not specifically designed for newborn babies. In addition to the workstation for the audiologist, the 10 foot by 10 foot room had two cushioned chairs and a large speaker system. There was no bed or couch for my baby to lie on.
I was carrying my 6 week-old baby in a hands-free infant carrier and — as she normally does — she fell asleep on our way to the clinic. Since my baby was still sleeping when we went into the testing room, the audiologist recommended we leave her in the carrier for the duration of the test.
The newborn hearing test was conducted by an audiologist with a Doctorate in audiology. Despite appearing to be in her late 20s, she also had specialized experience including a audiology residency and serving on a hospital team dedicated to treating cleft-palate birth defects. I got to talk to the audiologist throughout the 90 minute appointment and I left thinking that audiology is one possible career path for my daughter.
The audiologist used the same Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) method that the previous audiologist used during our newborn hearing screening. She placed two white pads near my baby’s temples, another pad on her forehead, and one probe in each ear. My daughter was asleep in the infant carrier the entire time and while this forced the two adults into contortions to get the equipment onto her, baby didn’t wake up at all during the hearing test.
Our newborn hearing test consisted of three individual tone tests for each ear. The audiologist tested a low, middle, and high pitch in independent tests for each of my baby’s ears. Due to some normal newborn squirming, she alternated ears for some of the pitches.While testing each individual pitch took only a few minutes, the audiologist had to wait for my baby to settle into a deeper sleep in between several of the tests.
After nearly an hour and a half, the audiologist delivered the good news: despite failing her initial newborn hearing screening, my baby has no signs of hearing loss. As many as 60 percent of babies who fail the initial screening are cleared in the follow-up, comprehensive newborn hearing test. Most audiologists suspect that retention of amniotic fluid causes the false-positives in the hearing screening.
Our family is obviously delighted that our daughter Arya passed her newborn hearing test. Unfortunately for her, once she gets older she cannot claim she didn’t hear us when we yell at her to clean her room.