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Hearing Loss in Newborns- Part I

Tuesday, May 10, 2016 9:35:08 AM Australia/Melbourne

Hearing Loss in Newborns- Part IMany parents will attest, that there is a significant amount of nerves and anxiety that couple the birth of a daughter or son. The same audience will probably also share that these nerves and anxiety don’t go away for about twenty years. While we don’t have the universal knowledge to tackle this is a broad challenge, the Hearlink team can impart our wisdom around hearing testing for newborns, and why it’s increasingly important.


Hearing loss is one of the most common disorders at birth. It effects about 1-2% of newborns. There are hearing organizations around the world, including but not limited to the American Academy of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery and the American Academy of Pediatrics, that are leading the charge as stakeholders who believe that hearing loss at the very least should be identified prior to the age of six months. In a perfect world, the hearing loss would be treated by this age, but unfortunately there are many roadblocks to this future state. Why six months old? This is not an arbitrary recommendation. Rather it is based on a medley of studies which collectively show that if hearing loss is caught before this age, those impacted have a much better chance of being in line with the skillsets of their peers by the time they reach kindergarten. Those that miss this window of opportunity often suffer from impairments which can either be irreversible or permanent, when it comes to their cognitive abilities, language and speech patterns.


We’re lucky that technology is in the place that it is. Before hearing screen programs were so comprehensive, a much smaller group of newborns were tested for hearing loss. Really, only newborns who had known and significant risk factors were considered for these tests. Those incorporated into this group had mothers who had suffered illness while pregnant, those with a history in the family of hearing loss and those who had been exposed to any drugs which could have a negative impact on hearing. There were also additional factors which were taken into account. These included: any syndromes associated with hearing loss, high levels of bilirubin (a yellow color), an abnormal structure of head or face, low Apgar scores, or infections like cytomegalovirus or herpes.


Now here’s the astounding statistic- even though infants falling into all of the aforementioned categories were tested…. more than half of newborns with hearing loss were missed.


This statistic upset many audiologists. It was too high of a number for the resources available in this day and age. It was time that something was done and that that number was reduced as much as possible. Now it is the executive recommendation that newborns must receive hearing tests before they are even discharged from the hospital. This is just one step in identifying all hearing impairments.


This is a very important cause to the Hearlink team. Stay tuned for part two on newborn hearing loss, and what we’re doing to combat it.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin