June 24th, 2015 | Ask an Audiologist | by Tracy Saunders

Ask an Audiologist – ABR Hearing Tests for Young Children

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing is used to assess patients who have difficulty providing the diagnostic feedback necessary for an Audiologist to determine the presence of hearing loss.

Young children, anyone with developmental issues, or other impairments may not be able to respond to the tones heard during a routine hearing test.

The ARR test, also known as the Auditory Evoked Potential (AEP) test is also used for people that show signs, symptoms and complaints that are indicative of a type of hearing loss in the brain or a brain pathway.

During the test electrodes that record brain wave activity in response to sound are placed on the patient’s head.  The patient is quietly resting or sleeping during the procedure.

A concerned parent emailed the enquiry below.

Ask an Audiologist…

Is an ABR absolutely required for fitting a hearing aid on a two to three year old?

Can behavioural audiometry provide some guidance in choosing the right hearing aid?

I ask as I would prefer not to have my child have general anesthesia, which I understand is required for children younger than seven.

Audiologist Response…

Hi, I’m familiar with the IHP protocol, but I’m not an IHP (Infant Hearing Program) audiologist.

From my experience, behavioral audiometry can provide reliable thresholds for hearing aid fitting, but it all depends on the child’s ability to perform the task.

If the audiologist feels that the results from the behavioral audiometry are not reliable enough, he/she may recommend an ABR.

Accurate hearing thresholds help to ensure that your child is receiving the appropriate amount of amplification from the hearing aid. Too much amplification could distort the sound and too little amplification could lead to under-stimulation of the nerve and poor speech understanding.

In this case, I would tend to trust the opinion of an Audiologist that has experience working in pediatrics.

Hope this helps,

Tracy Saunders, M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO

Tracy Saunders is a registered Audiologist with the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario. She holds a Master’s Degree in Audiology from the University of Western Ontario and an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto. Tracy is currently working as Audiology Manager at Hearing Solutions.

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