Ear care

Tests to detect deafness in babies


The early detection of childhood deafness is essential to put a treatment on time and avoid problems or language alterations in children. Advances in the field of science and technology have successfully implemented two tests, which can be performed on the newborn, even before leaving the maternity hospital where they have just been born.

Tests to detect deafness in babies or child hearing loss they represent a great advance, because until recently the detection of hearing problems was carried out at the age of 2 years, when the child could emit a response to various auditory stimuli. Thanks to the response or the absence of response, the assessments were made.

Currently, the Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics (AEPap) highlights the importance of performing a neonatal screening test on every newborn for the early detection of congenital hearing loss.

To detect infantile hearing loss in babies, there are two types of tests: otoacoustic emissions and auditory brainstem evoked potentials.

1. Otoacoustic emissions
They are done by placing a small adapter in the baby's ear canal, which emits sounds and collects the responses that are generated in an area of ​​the inner ear called the cochlea.

2. The evoked auditory potentials
To carry out this test, sensors are placed on the newborn's scalp, which collect the electrical activity generated in the ear and in the brain in response to sound stimuli that are emitted from headphones.

Both tests do not cause any discomfort in the newborn. It is advisable to carry out these tests while the baby is calm or sleeping and it is usual to do the test between 12 and 48 hours of life, before leaving the maternity ward. In any case, it must be done in the first month of life.

With early detection in newborns, a diagnosis of hearing loss can be reached before 6 months, a very important advance, since deafness is usually detected at 2 years of age in children who are not tested. tests at birth.

Most permanent childhood deafness is already present at birth, but sometimes it becomes apparent later, which means that passing the test at birth does not guarantee that the child will not develop deafness later. If the child passes the test, it means that hearing is normal at that time.

Parents should be alert for any sign that the child does not hear well, especially in the first three years of life. Newborns that do not pass the test are monitored by ENT specialists, who will confirm or rule out possible deafness in the baby.

About 5 out of every 1,000 children are born with some form of deafness. In 1 in 1,000, deafness is profound. In Spain, the Commission for the Early Detection of Hearing Loss recommends, since 1999, testing all newborn children for hearing screening. The Ministry of Health and Consumption and the autonomous communities approved the program for the early detection of deafness in 2003, for its implementation at the state level.

With this program, early treatment for hearing loss is facilitated. It must be borne in mind that if deafness is not treated early, it prevents the acquisition of language and hinders the emotional and intellectual development of the child. Early identification and treatment of children with these problems facilitate language development. This improves your learning and communication.

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