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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.


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