It is very important to know at an early stage if your baby is hearing-impaired. This is because babies learn to speak as they interact with their environment. They mimic the way people around them talk. But if your baby is suffering from deafness, he will need to learn to communicate in a different way.
Doctors suggest that the baby be screened for deafness on his first month. For this you will have to go to a audiologist. Once the doctor suspects that something is wrong with your baby's hearing, he will continue to test the baby up to the next three months. At this stage, parents should already be in the know of possible hearing devices just in case.
There are many hospitals that screen newborns for deafness. But for some, the doctors are more focused with babies that are suspected of deafness early on and those with family background of deafness or any other medical conditions. A healthy family background though does not guarantee a newborn to be free of any birth defect, deafness included. A good advice is to be in close contact with the hospital so when you are home with the baby, you can easily ask for your baby's medical records.
But how is the screening done? There are two ways and like I said earlier, the baby is in no harm.
First is the OAE (Otoacoustic Emissions). This test tells if the baby displays a corresponding response to a certain sound. There is what doctors call “echo" which anyone with normal hearing possesses. In the OAE test, there is a small spongy earphone placed on the baby's ear canal. The “echo" is measured when the ear gets stimulated by the sound. If there is no sound, there is a clear problem on the baby's hearing.
The other test is the ABR (Auditory Brain stem Response). This one verifies if and how the brain, along with the brain stem reacts to a certain sound. Here, the baby wears earphones as the test is performed. The electrodes are placed on the calmly baby's ears and head. The doctor sends sounds by way of the earphones. If there is inconsistency in the baby's reaction for the entirety of the test, the doctor may need you to set an appointment with an audiologist.
While we are hoping and praying no baby will ever deal with deafness again, we encourage parents to be in the know of this new way of interacting with their babies, especially the deafness-stricken - Sign language for babies. I want to share with you a great source regarding this matter: http://baby-sign-language.info
Please, take that first step in ensuring your baby's health.