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How ABR Testing Can Detect Hearing Loss in Infants and Children

How ABR Testing Can Detect Hearing Loss in Infants and Children

Hearing loss is a common condition that affects many children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.7% of newborns in the United States have hearing loss in one or both ears. Early detection and intervention of hearing loss can improve the child’s speech, language, and social development. One of the methods to detect hearing loss in infants and children is the auditory brainstem response (ABR) test.

What is an ABR test?

An ABR test is a safe and painless test that measures how the hearing nerves and brain respond to sounds. The test does not require the child to respond or cooperate, so it can be done while the child is sleeping or sedated. The test involves placing small earphones in the child’s ears and soft electrodes (small sensor stickers) near the ears and on the forehead. The earphones deliver clicking sounds or tones of different frequencies, and the electrodes record the electrical activity of the hearing nerves and brainstem. The results are displayed on a computer as a series of waves that show the strength and timing of the responses.

What can an ABR test tell us?

An ABR test can provide information about the degree, type, and configuration of hearing loss in infants and children. The degree of hearing loss refers to how much sound is reduced or blocked by the hearing problem. The type of hearing loss refers to which part of the ear is affected: the outer or middle ear (conductive hearing loss), the inner ear or nerve (sensorineural hearing loss), or both (mixed hearing loss). The configuration of hearing loss refers to how hearing loss varies across different frequencies or pitches. For example, some children may have more hearing loss in high frequencies than in low frequencies, or vice versa.

An ABR test can also help determine if a child needs a hearing aid or other assistive device. By comparing the responses from air conduction (sound delivered through earphones) and bone conduction (sound delivered through a vibrator placed behind the ear), an ABR test can indicate if a child can benefit from amplification or not. This test can also help fit a hearing aid by providing information on the optimal level and frequency range of amplification for each ear.

When is an ABR test recommended?

An ABR test is often recommended if a newborn fails the hearing screening test given in the hospital shortly after birth, or if there is a suspicion of hearing loss based on risk factors, family history, or behavioral signs. An ABR test is also recommended for older children who are too young or unable to cooperate with conventional hearing tests, such as those with developmental delays, autism, or attention problems. An ABR test may also be used to monitor changes in hearing over time, especially for children with progressive or fluctuating hearing loss.

Where can I get an ABR test for my child?

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, you should consult with your pediatrician or an audiologist (a hearing specialist) who can perform an ABR test for your child. An audiologist can also explain the results of the test and recommend appropriate interventions and follow-up care for your child’s hearing needs.

One of the places where you can get an ABR test for your child is in iHearBetterNow Hearing and ENT Center, a comprehensive clinics located in Lapu-Lapu City and Cebu City that offers a range of services for children and adults with hearing and ear-related problems. iHearBetterNow Hearing and ENT Center has a team of experienced and certified audiologists who can perform accurate and reliable ABR tests using state-of-the-art equipment. You can visit their website at to learn more about their services and schedule an appointment.

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