Identification of Neonatal Hearing Impairment: Transient evoked otoacoustic emissions during the perinatal period

Susan J. Norton, Michael P. Gorga, Judith E. Widen, Betty R. Vohr, Richard C. Folsom, Yvonne S. Sininger, Barbara Cone-Wesson, Kristin A. Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Objectives: 1) To describe transient evoked otoacoustic emission (TEOAE) levels, noise levels and signal to noise ratios (SNRs) for a range of frequency bands in three groups of neonates who were tested as a part of the Identification of Neonatal Hearing Impairment multi-center consortium project. 2) To describe the relations between these TEOAE measurements and age, test environment, baby state, and test time. Design: TEOAEs were measured in 4478 graduates of neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), 353 well babies with at least one risk indicator, and 2348 well babies without risk factors. TEOAE and noise levels were measured for frequency bands centered at 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 kHz for a click stimulus level of 80 dB SPL. For those ears not meeting 'passing' stopping criteria at 80 dB pSPL, a level of 86 dB pSPL was included. Measurement-based stopping rules were used such that a test did not terminate unless the response revealed a criterion SNR in four out of five frequency bands or no response occurred after a preset number of averages. Baby state, test environment, and other test factors were captured at the time of test. Results: TEOAE levels, noise levels and SNRs were similar for NICU graduates, well babies with risk factors and well babies without risk factors. There were no consistent differences in response quality as a function of test environment, i.e., private room, unit, open crib, nonworking isolette, or working isolette. Noise level varied little across risk group, test environment, or infant state other than crying, suggesting that the primary source of noise in TEOAE measurements is infant noise. The most significant effect on response quality was center frequency. Responses were difficult to measure in the half-octave band centered at 1.0 kHz, compared with higher frequencies. Reliable responses were measured routinely at frequencies of 1.5 kHz and higher. Conclusions: TEOAEs are easily measured in both NICU graduates and well babies with and without risk factors for hearing loss in a wide variety of test environments. Given the difficulties encountered in making reliable measurements for a frequency band centered at 1.0 kHz, its inclusion in a screening program may not be justified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-442
Number of pages18
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing


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