ABR Hearing Test-For Those Who Can’t Speak For Themselves

Last Updated February 5, 2023

Arash G

By Arash G

GM House of Hearing Clinics

ABR Hearing Test

The hearing health and general well-being of your newborn baby are really important to you. An enormous amount of information is being gathered and processed by your little one and much of that input comes through hearing. The ability to identify hearing loss in young children can play a crucial role in enabling a child to develop a balanced outlook, good social skills, and healthy self-esteem.

The American Joint Committee on Infant Hearing Loss identified the first six months of life as critical for applying effective intervention and rehabilitation of infants with hearing loss.[1] If you suspect your baby has some hearing difficulties it is imperative to identify those issues and provide some effective tools to support his or her hearing, speech development, and ongoing learning.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to know what is happening inside their ears, even for the experts. Conventional and traditional tests rely on the client’s ability to respond and give reasonably objective feedback. This is problematic with newborns as there is no way to gauge a newborn’s responses definitively.

Auditory Brainstem Response Test (ABR)

The Auditory Brainstem Response Test (ABR) offers a clearer picture of the infant’s hearing because it does not rely on the patient’s verbal feedback. Instead, the ABR test measures the response directly from the patient’s nervous system. The patient does not even need to be awake. In fact, it is better if the child is asleep. When sounds enter the ear, the movement of tiny hairs sends impulses along the auditory nerve to the brain. It is these nerve responses that the ABR test measures. For this reason, ABR testing is sometimes called Brain Stem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) testing.

ABR—how is the test administered?

The entire process is completely safe and painless. A number of small electrodes are placed on the child’s head. Earphones feed a wide range of sound frequencies (clicks and hisses) into the child’s ears and the electrodes record the subtle changes in the brainwave responses from the auditory nerves centered in the brainstem.

This data is fed back into a specialized computer and software programme where the audiologist can study the readout and analyze the results. It’s a little like an electrician testing the wiring in your house. The electrician doesn’t need to see the wiring to identify a problem as the voltmeter registers the electronic activity and determines where there are issues.

For children between the ages of 6 months and 7 years, anesthesia is recommended to ensure the child remains relaxed and still. The test itself will take around one hour to one and a half hours.

What can the ABR test show?

The highly specialized equipment has a wide response range of 400 -8,000 Hz. This expansive range and sensitivity provide the audiologist with a very detailed picture of every level of the child’s hearing. ABR testing is particularly effective for analyzing and comparing right and left vestibular function. Vestibular function plays a crucial role in processing sound for learning, motor skills, and balance.

ABR testing also provides a cost-effective tool for screening those older patients who have suspected acoustic neuromas. An acoustic neuroma is a non-malignant growth on the vestibulocochlear nerve. These grow very slowly and the patient may attribute the progressive symptoms of hearing loss, loss of balance, headaches, and confusion to old age.

The ABR test is a screening test. It does not prove that you or your child has hearing loss but it is an effective tool that allows your audiologist to screen those who do need to undergo other testing procedures.

Come and visit us at https://www.houseofhearing.ca/ Let us show you how we can help you get the best outcomes for your loved ones.

[1] Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, American Academy of Paediatrics. Pediatrics 70: 496-7, 1982.


More From our Library

Presbycusis age related hearing loss

What is Presbycusis, and What Causes It?

Age related hearing loss due to natural aging is called presbycusis. It’s one of the most common forms of hearing loss and affects millions of adults over 50. Age related…
Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Common Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Do you have trouble hearing? Hearing loss is a common problem that affects millions of people. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2050 one in four individuals will experience…
Best Hearing Aids Canada

The Best Hearing Aids Canada 2023

Hearing aids are a common way to help those with hearing loss regain their hearing while still enjoying the sounds of life. With so many options on the market, choosing…
Phonak Lumity Hearing Aids info

Phonak Lumity Hearing Aids

If you’re looking for hearing aids that will help you understand conversations better and make listening easier, then you’ll want to check out Phonak Lumity hearing aids. With Phonak SmartSpeech…

More From our Library
How do tinnitus maskers work

How do tinnitus maskers work?

Annoying noises (tinnitus) in your ears are one of the first symptoms of hearing loss. Tinnitus affects large numbers of…