Monday, February 6, 2012

Hearing Update

So back in September Phoebe had a fancy hearing test called an ABR (Automated Brain Response) down at Egleston to confirm a slight hearing loss in her left ear.  The audiologists wanted to keep a close eye on her hearing because these first few years are so important for language and speech development; they are not sure if her loss will deteriorate further or if any type of deficit will develop in her right ear.

The ABR measured her brain response to sound stimuli in each ear.  In November, when Phoebe was 3 months old, we went back for a second ABR.  They were unable to complete the test at that time because in order to receive accurate results the baby must be very still in a deep state of sleep.  As babies get older their sleep becomes more restless.  Phoebe was asleep on my lap for the test and it looked to me like she was sound asleep, but apparently she was having enough muscle movement (undetectable to me) to interfere with the test.  So at that time they had recommended an sedated ABR.  They wanted to artificially sedate her to ensure a deep state of sleep and then repeat the ABR.  We said no.  I'm not going to sedate my baby to determine IF her very mild hearing loss has deteriorated further.

So instead we opted for a behavioral hearing test, which we had done last week.  Unlike the ABR this test is not ear specific or as accurate (at this age) so it will not be able to measure the level of hearing in each ear.   But we figured if she has some loss in her left ear, but fully compensates with her right ear, who cares??  So we did several preliminary tests and then went and sat in a sound booth.  The audiologist played sounds at different frequencies and "rewarded" Phoebe for turning towards the sound.  Phoebe did well and was apparently able to respond appropriately demonstrating a normal hearing using both ears in the sound booth.

Then they put in ear buds to try to test ear specific hearing but they really were not able to get accurate results.  She was getting tired and fussy.  So now they are recommending follow-up hearing tests in the sound booth every 3-6 months until she is three years old and then I think maybe yearly??  And they want us to follow-up with an ENT.  We actually did see an ENT back in September at the request of our pediatrician when Phoebe was about 6 weeks old and it was a complete waste of my time and money.

I'm thinking we will go back to the ENT in April or May after we do our next sound booth test.  Chris and I both think she can hear just fine at this point and aren't really concerned about it getting worse.  Of course we want to monitor her hearing because this is such a crucial stage for language development, but I'm still not convinced (or maybe just naively hopeful) that her unilateral mild high frequency hearing loss will stunt or harm her language development.

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