Ear Center: Next Steps
If the baby fails the SBHT, despite normal tympanograms, the baby's pediatrician will then refer the parents and infant to Otology centers that are fitting hearing aids and performing cochlear implants.
Once fit with hearing aids, the Sleeping Baby Hearing Test - a Home Hearing Screen should be repeated with the infant wearing the hearing aids. If the hearing aids are providing the baby with enough functional gain, the baby should awaken at 60 dB SPL. If the hearing aids are providing adequate gain and the baby does not awaken, candidacy for cochlear implantation needs to be determined by an otologist. If severe to profound hearing loss is determined, cochlear implantation may be offered.
The hope is that early detection of hearing loss in infants and early intervention with hearing aids and cochlear implants will lead to improved hearing, speech and language function, and cognitive development for all of our children.
Up to 6 newborns per 1000 are born with various degrees of hearing loss and fail the hospital screen. However, many newborns have a 7-10 day hearing loss due to amniotic fluid in the middle ear. The effusion usually clears with newborn crying.
Follow-up with the Sleeping Baby Hearing Test - a Home Hearing Screen within 2 weeks of the first pediatric well baby clinic will help to rule out these temporary hearing losses. The goal is that, ultimately, all pediatricians and parents will have the Sleeping Baby Hearing Test screen readilty available.
We are extremely grateful to Dr. William F. House, the father of modern cochlear implantation, for developing the Sleeping Baby Hearing Test - a Home Hearing Screen. It is an elegant, non-invasive screening test designed to help with the early detection and intervention of hearing loss in infants.