What You Need To Know About Auditory Neuropathy And Your Infant

Auditory neuropathy is a serious problem for infants and young children. It is often detected as part of the newborn hearing screening done at most hospitals after birth. For children with auditory neuropathy, their inner ear receives sounds the way that it should, but the auditory nerve isn't processing those sounds properly, or the signals sent from the cochlea may be jumbled and disorganized. If you suspect that your child may have auditory neuropathy, you should talk with an audiologist at a clinic like Hearing Specialists of DuPage right away. Here's an overview of what you can expect from the testing and diagnosis process.

How do Doctors Diagnose Auditory Neuropathy?

In order to diagnose auditory neuropathy, your child's audiologist will have to evaluate a series of results from several hearing tests. Two of the key tests used to diagnose auditory neuropathy are administered shortly after birth, and then follow-up assessments can be done afterward.

Auditory Brainstem Response

Auditory brainstem response tests use small electrodes that attach behind each ear and on your baby's head. Then, the test administrator will put miniature earphones on your baby's ears and trigger certain sounds. The electrodes behind the ears will pick up the response from the hearing nerve, and then the electrodes will measure how the nerve is responding to the sound that it receives.

Otoacoustic Emission Testing

The otoacoustic emission test uses a similar small earphone to introduce several tones to your baby's ear. A microphone will measure the inner ear's echo response. This will estimate how the inner ear is responding to sounds.

One of the most overwhelming findings with auditory neuropathy is that most babies have nearly normal otoacoustic emissions. This indicates that the cells of the inner ear are working properly. Along with almost-normal results on an otoacoustic emissions test, babies with auditory neuropathy will show poor response from the hearing nerve in auditory brainstem response measurement.

Things to Watch For

Sometimes, infants with auditory neuropathy can pass the initial hearing screening at the hospital. If the signs aren't readily apparent, it may take some time to diagnose the condition. Watch your child for consistent problems with sound responses. As your child gets older, you'll start to find more obvious signs of problems, including speech recognition problems and difficulties hearing in a noisy environment.

Any time you have concerns about your baby's hearing, you should talk with a pediatrician about having a hearing test. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can start building strategies to help your child adapt.