Early hearing tests vital for newborns

KIMT News 3 – Hearing loss effects thousands of newborns each year, and if not treated properly, can become permanent.

Audiologists say that there’s a six-month window, once a child is born to be screened for hearing loss.

Almost all newborns are screened at birth, but many parents do not go to follow-up screenings soon after.

As many as 50 percent of children in rural areas across the country, miss their follow-up hearing screenings.

As soon as a child is born, they immediately begin language development and learning to speak.

If the child has a hard time hearing, this can put them at risk for early developmental issues.

“We learn how to talk, we learn language just by the over-and-over-and-over again presence of language. If there’s hearing loss present, you don’t get that constant over and over again, which is so crucial to speech and language development,” said Audiologist, Dr. Stuart Trembath with Hearing Associates.

Tests are automated and quick, usually between two to five minutes.

Audiologists say they hope to get all children screened before the critical six-month period where intervention is crucial.

“Our goal, and the goal of the newborn hearing screening program is, that all children should be identified by the age of three months to see if they have hearing loss. Then, they should be appropriately amplified by the time they are six months old,” said Trembath.

Hearing loss can go unnoticed during early life, because it lies on the spectrum of impairment, with what is commonly known as deafness actually being quite rare.

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