Minnesota Hands and Voices


Screening & Testing

How Hearing is Tested in Children

Hearing Screening vs. Evaluation

A hearing screening determines the probability for whether a child has or does not have a significant hearing loss or whether further testing is needed. Most Minnesota hospitals will perform a screening otoacoustic emissions test on newborns before hospital discharge.

If they are not able to clear a child for hearing, a second screening may be recommended in 1-3 weeks after birth. If that test is inconclusive, the infant may be referred for ABR and a full audiologic evaluation to determine the degree and type of hearing loss.

For more information about newborn hearing screening online see the Minnesota Department of Health, Early Hearing Detection & Intervention (EHDI).

How Hearing is Tested in Children

  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): While a child is sleeping or sedated, electrodes are placed on the child's head, sounds are presented through earphones and changes in brain wave activity are monitored when sound is presented. 
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE):  Involves placing a small probe in a quiet child's ear and measuring activity of the cochlea (inner ear).
  • Behavioral testing: An alert infant or toddler sits on a parent's lap in a sound proof room while an audiologist presents various sounds and monitors the child behavior in response to sound. Visual Reinforcement Audiometry can be performed when a child is old enough to turn to the direction where a sound originates, and the audiologist reinforces responses with animated toys and lights.
  • Tympanometry: Involves placing a special soft camera in a child's ear to evaluate middle ear function.

If you know someone who would benefit from this site, fill out the form below and we will send them more information.
Cancel Send Referral

If you’re a professional and know a family that could benefit from the information on this site, you can refer them through this secure form.

The Minnesota Hands & Voices values the support from parents like you.

To donate

To volunteer