ABR testing is an electrophysiological measurement that allows the audiologist to obtain information about the condition of the inner ear and/or auditory nerve. It is the most critical procedure in the initial round of tests because it is an accurate and reliable predictor of hearing loss in infants who are too young to respond to behavioral testing. ABR should include Tone bursts, Clicks, and Bone Conduction testing. The ABR measurement provides information on the degree, type, and configuration of a hearing loss and allows the audiologist to fit an infant with a hearing aid when needed.
Generally, infants less than 6 months of age do not need sedation for this test. When sedation is needed, the ABR is conducted in a special clinic room or hospital operating room. In either case, a physician must be on site and a medical professional must monitor the infant’s vital signs while the audiologist is performing the ABR.
Helpful techniques for preparing an infant for ABR include:
- Scheduling your baby’s ABR around his or her nap time. A quiet, sleeping baby allows the examiner to get better responses to the ABR testing.
- Feeding your infant just prior to the testing helps to keep them relaxed and comfortable.
- Bring a blanket or stuffed toy that your infant is familiar with to make him/her more comfortable during the evaluation.
- Allow for a block of time in your schedule for the audiologist to test the infant. Sometimes more time is needed for the evaluation if your infant takes time to calm down.