Longitudinal measurements of spontaneous otoacoustic emissions in infants.
It has previously been shown [E. M. Burns, K. H. Arehart, and S. L. Campbell, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 91, 1575-1581 (1992)] that both the overall prevalence of spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOAEs) and most of the various gender- and ear-related prevalence tendencies are not significantly different in 1-month-olds and adults. However, large differences were found between the neonates and adults in the distributions of the frequencies and levels of SOAEs. Both the average level and the median frequency were significantly higher in infants. To obtain longitudinal SOAE data, infants from this original group of 1-month-olds were tested at ages 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. In general, individual SOAEs decrease in level with age, and high-frequency SOAEs tend to show the largest decreases. No substantial shifts occur in the frequencies of individual SOAEs. The frequency and level distributions at 24 months of age are still not adult-like. SOAEs which show short-term instabilities in frequency and/or amplitude at 1 month of age typically continue to evidence such instabilities at later ages. These results suggest the cochlea is adult-like at birth, and imply that the observed SOAE changes reflect developmental changes in the external and middle ear.