Hearing is one of the most important senses for the development of babies, because through it they hear the voice of their parents and the sounds emitted around them. To detect possible hearing problems in newborns, from birth, an otoacoustic emission test or “ear test”, as it is popularly called, is carried out.
It is a neonatal hearing screening that must be carried out in the maternity ward or in the first month of life – in the case of babies who were not born in a hospital setting -, in accordance with Federal Law 12.303 of August 2 2010 Its execution is important so that if the little one suspects a hearing loss, the problem is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
According to speech therapist Silvia Roberta Monteiro, of Paulista Hospital, the integrity of the auditory system is essential for the acquisition of spoken language to occur without interferences and delays, and warns of the damage that can occur if the new -born does not pass the screening.
“Children who do not pass the hearing test and who have hearing loss may have their development compromised. Among the damage, if treatment is not adopted early, are learning and understanding difficulties, in addition to speech and social interaction disorders, ”warns the speech therapist.
The first years of life are crucial for hearing
According to Silvia Roberta Monteiro, the first years of life are considered crucial for children’s hearing and language development.
“The newborn already has specialized nerve structures in the brain ready for auditory experiences, requiring only auditory stimulation. A baby who does not receive adequate stimulation during the first two or three years of his life will never have his language potential fully developed,” he warns.
The speech therapist emphasizes the importance of early identification of the problem, as well as the benefits of treatment before six months of life in the hearing-impaired child: “Together, this care allows the development of receptive and expressive language, with emergence of social and speech skills comparable to those of children of the same age group with good hearing.
According to Silvia Roberta Monteiro, the newborn hearing screening program is extremely necessary, as a first step to assess the hearing of all newborns, with or without risk of hearing loss.
“About 50% of hearing losses could be avoided or their sequelae reduced, if early detection, diagnosis and rehabilitation measures were taken. Failure to detect hearing loss early in children leads to diagnoses and interventions at very late ages and impaired overall child development.
How does the hearing test work?
Simple and painless, the ear test can be applied while the baby is sleeping, without pain or discomfort. The examination is carried out by inserting a tiny probe into the ear canal, capable of emitting sound stimuli and picking up the response of the outer hair cells of the cochlea. These cells participate in the capture and amplification of sound.
If the examination detects the existence of an alteration, the baby is referred to a diagnostic service, where an otolaryngological evaluation and complementary examinations are carried out.
Shortly after birth, the child may have vernix – residual fluid from childbirth – in the external auditory canal, the auditory canal, impairing the performance of the examination. In these situations, the baby should be tested again after 30 days of life, when it is expected that this fluid has already been eliminated, and answers will then be more reliable.
Children at known risk of deafness or who present with a new impairment of otoacoustic emissions should be referred for another test, the BERA, also called ABR (Brain Stem Auditory Evoked Potential), which more fully assesses the entire auditory system. Like the ear test, it is non-invasive and should be done while the child is sleeping.