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Why does my son have inconsistent hearing behaviour?

Q: My 1 year 4 months old son has not started speaking yet. The doctor asked us to get the hearing test done. At home we have observed an inconsistent hearing behaviour in him. Sometimes he doesn't respond to his name, but sometimes he understands the whole conversation and acts accordingly. We took him to Ali Yavar Jung Hearing Hospital. After the audiometery test, doctors said that he appears to be a normal child, but with inconsistent hearing behaviour. They have asked us to get a BERA test done. What is a BERA test and how is it done? Is it safe for my son? Is it possible that my son is normal and just chooses when he wants to respond?

A:I do hope a detailed examination was also done by an ENT surgeon. Your son's issue could be something as simple as ossicular discontinuity or some outer/middle ear problem which are fairly easy to resolve. Ali Yawar Jung doctors are quite right to suggest a BERA test. This is Brain Evoked Response Audiometry and is a non-invasive diagnostic test which involves placing 8/16/32 electrodes on the scalp and measuring the brains electrical response to sound signals of varying speech frequencies. The patient has to be absolutely still and quiet or the results are wrong. Since the baby is too young to be still, it would be necessary to sedate him, even through general anaesthesia if necessary. So trust the doctors at AYJ and follow their advice.

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