Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Infant Testing: Why You Should Have Your Infant Tested for Hearing Loss

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Infant Testing: Why You Should Have Your Infant Tested for Hearing Loss

Article excerpt

When you look into the eyes of your newborn child, you probably aren't thinking about whether or not he can hear what you're saying. In fact, it could be months, even a year, before you are able to recognize your child's inability to hear.

What most people aren't aware of is that with today's technology, newborns can be tested and fitted with hearing aids. This is great news when you consider that one in 1,000 babies is born with a severe or profound hearing loss. In 1993 fewer than five percent of newborns were screened for hearing prior to leaving the hospital. Today that number is 65 percent. Undiagnosed hearing loss can result in delayed language and cognitive development.

If a pediatric audiologist finds that your baby's hearing is normal, there probably will be no reason to re-screen until the child starts school when most children will have their hearing tested by a school nurse or other health professional.

But if you notice that your baby is not babbling or cooing at three- to six-months-old and trying to generate some form of verbal communication by age 12 or 18 months, there might be some hearing issues. Likewise, if your child starts making sounds but then stops vocalizing, is unresponsive to your voice, or is inattentive to environmental sounds, consult a pediatric audiologist.

Depending on the severity of the hearing loss there are several solutions, including high quality hearing aids. Some things to consider when choosing a hearing aid include:

Circuitry. Hearing aids, especially newer ones with Integrated Signal Processing (ISP) have gotten a lot smarter. In recent years, ISP digital technology has revolutionized the hearing aid industry by greatly increasing the sound quality, accuracy, and fitting flexibility of the hearing aid.

Programmability. Children under two years of age will typically need to have the hearing aid adjusted every three to four months, then every six months up to age five, and then annually after that.

FM transmitter/receiver systems. These are often used in the classroom. The system allows the teacher to talk into a microphone that sends the signal by radio transmission to a receiver connected to the student's hearing aid. This provides a clearer teacher's voice even in difficult listening situations.

Sensogram in-situ fitting strategy. Available with several Widex digital hearing aids, this hearing instrument is placed in the child's ears and his/her hearing thresholds at three to four frequency channels are determined. This method allows for very accurate and effective amplification settings.

Flexible electro-acoustics. As a child grows from birth to five years of age, the ear and ear canal also grow. This has an impact on how the hearing aid fits and the child's amplification needs. …

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