Hearing loss is experienced by people of all ages, including infants. Fortunately, nearly all children born in the U.S. receive a hearing screening while they are still in the hospital. This is done in order to ensure hearing loss is caught as early as possible.
The Importance of Screenings
Hearing plays an important role in your child’s development. Untreated hearing loss can cause speech and language delays and problems with communication development, which can lead to social isolation and poor academic performance.
The sooner hearing loss is identified, the quicker your child can get the services they need.
In all 50 states and most U.S. territories, there are Early Hearing Detection and Intervention laws requiring newborns to be screened prior to hospital discharge. If there is an issue, children are enrolled in intervention programs by six months of age. They are then entitled to receive free educational services until age 21, thanks to the Disabilities Education Act.
The Components of a Hearing Screening
There are two common tests performed during a newborn hearing screening. Both are quick and painless; many children sleep through the entire procedure.
This test measures your child’s response to sound. For those with normal hearing, an otoacoustic emission can be detected in the ear canal when sound is heard. A device is placed in the ear canal to pick up an echo while a microphone plays a series of tones. If no emissions are record, this is an indication that your child may have hearing loss.
The screening is performed on each ear. Passing this test means your child’s inner ears are correctly receiving sounds.
Auditory Brainstem Response
This test measures how well your child’s auditory nerve responds to sounds. Small electrodes are taped to their scalp to pick up brain signals.
The screening is performed on each ear. Passing this test means your child’s brain is correctly receiving sound.
What Does a Failed Screening Mean?
It is not uncommon for newborn infants to fail their initial hearing screening, as many still have fluid in their ear canal after birth. The children who fail their first hearing screening complete a follow-up screening within the next few weeks.
If your child fails the second screening, they should see a pediatric audiologist for a full diagnostic hearing test.
Prompt follow-up is key to catching and treating pediatric hearing loss in a timely manner.
Pediatric Hearing Services
If your child is diagnosed with hearing loss, there are a number of available intervention services. These include:
- Hearing devices
- American Sign Language (ASL)
- Auditory-oral learning
- Assistive listening devices
Your child’s audiologist will put together an individualized plan that’s right for their type and degree of hearing loss.
To learn more about newborn hearing screenings or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, contact the experts at Gulf Coast Audiology today.