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Health Information For Parents
An auditory brainstem response (ABR) test is a safe and painless test to see how the hearing nerves and brain respond to sounds. It gives health care providers information about possible hearing loss.
ABRs are done when:
Preparing for the test depends on your child’s age. Older kids might get sedation (medicine given to make a child relaxed, calm, or sleepy) for an ABR. If so, you will get instructions about fasting before the test and what to do at home after the test.
If your child is:
An audiologist places small earphones in the child’s ears and soft electrodes (small sensor stickers) near the ears and on the forehead. Clicking sounds and tones go through the earphones, and electrodes measure how the hearing nerves and brain respond to the sounds.
If your child has an unsedated ABR, you can stay with your child during the test.
If your child has a sedated ABR, ask if you can stay with your child during the test. You might need to stay in the waiting room during the test.
An ABR test usually takes 1–2 hours, but the appointment may last about 3 hours. If a sleeping baby wakes up during the test, the test will take longer because the baby will need to fall back asleep again to finish the test. Children who have a sedated ABR may go to a recovery area while they wake up from the sedation.
The audiologist will let you know how the test went and discuss the next steps with you.
If your child was sedated, a member of the sedation team will explain what to do over the next few hours. Most sedation wears off within 1–2 hours.
The audiologist will discuss the test with you when it’s done. A final report with recommendations will be available in a few weeks. If a hearing loss is found, the report also will go to the newborn hearing screening coordinator in your state.
No. ABRs are safe, do not hurt, and do not have any side effects. If your child needs sedation, discuss the risks and benefits with your health care provider or sedation team before the test.
Hearing problems can be overcome if they’re caught early, so it’s important to get your child’s hearing screened early and checked regularly.
Hearing impairment occurs when there’s a problem with or damage to one or more parts of the ear. Find out its causes and what can be done to help correct it.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Hearing loss happens when there is a problem with the ear, nerves connected to the ear, or the part of the brain that controls hearing. Someone who has hearing loss may be able to hear some sounds or nothing at all. To learn more, read this article for kids.
Your newborn is taking in first sights, sounds, and smells while learning to explore the world through the senses. What are your baby’s responses to light, noise, and touch?
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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