Nearly 12,000 babies born each year in the United States have a hearing impairment, according to the National Institutes of Health. And the sooner hearing loss is identified in infants, the less delay there is in learning to speak and learn. Babies learn to communicate by listening to the people around them from the time they are born; if hearing loss is present, it is important to be aware and make adjustments so the hearing centers of the child’s brain can be stimulated, allowing him or her to develop critical speech and language skills. Many hospitals offer hearing screenings to help parents detect any signs of abnormality in their infants.
During the screening, two different types of tests may be used. The first measures the echo of a sound in the ear canal using a tiny microphone, while the second uses electrodes to measure responses to sound. Neither of these tests is intrusive or painful; in fact, many babies sleep right through both tests. If your child does not past the screening, do not panic. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, up to 10 percent of all babies do not pass the screening due to varying reasons that do not imply hearing loss. For instance, babies with normal hearing may not pass if they have fluid in the middle ear or if there is distracting movement or crying during the test.
However, if your child does not pass the initial screening, it is critical that he or she receive a follow-up test. As noted, the sooner any signs of hearing loss are detected, the sooner the child can begin to learn and communicate. If you are pregnant, ask an audiologist on your True Dental Discounts hearing plan about hearing screenings for infants. He or she can help you prepare for that important step after the baby’s birth and give you peace of mind about the health of your child.