Babies routinely have their hearing screened while still in the hospital, either in the nursery or in their mothers’ room. If the test was not completed or if your infant did not pass one or both ears they will be referred for repeat or additional testing.
Learn about the hearing screening programs offered by the Minnesota Department of Health here.
How is my infant’s hearing tested?
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing
The OAE (Otoacoustic Emissions) test the inner ear’s response to sound. The test is mostly done on infants and children who may not be able to respond to behavioral hearing tests because of their age.
How is the test done?
Soft foam or rubber tips are placed in your child’s ear. Your child will hear soft sounds through the soft foam or rubber tips. A computer will record quiet echoes from the ear.
How should I prepare for the test?
Your child is not required to sleep during this test. However, everyone in the room must be able to sit still and be very quiet. Your child will not feel anything during this test.
How long is the test?
This test should only take a few minutes.
What do the results mean?
The results are either present or absent/reduced.
- Present OAEs are consistent with normal to near normal hearing.
- Absent/reduced OAEs may be a sign of a problem. It could be hearing loss, wax in the ears, fluid or infection in the middle ear or a malformed inner ear. This indicates that more diagnostic testing is warranted to define ear and hearing health and to rule in or out hearing loss.