The Timpanogos Hearing & Balance family would like to extend congratulations to Dr. Steven Forsey and his wife for the birth of their son! There are many things that go in in the hospital when a new baby is born– one of the most important is the Infant Hearing Screening.
Current statistics show that three of every 1000 babies born in Utah have a permanent hearing loss. Utah State Law requires that all newborn infants be screened for hearing loss before they leave the hospital. This law is in place because identifying hearing loss early can make all the difference in a child’s success in communication, education and social interaction.
What is the screening?
The screening test performed in the hospital is called Otoacoustic Emissions, or OAE. This test is performed by an audiologist or a trained audiologist technician (with the results reviewed by an audiologist.) To perform this test, the administrator uses a tiny probe in the infant’s ear that presents a tone and then looks for an “echo” coming back from the cochlea. If that echo is not present, the audiologist will recommend that the OAE be performed again a few days later. If that second test is also failed, then more in depth testing may be recommended.
Why is the screening important?
Hearing is critical for the development of speech, language, communication skills, and learning. The earlier that hearing loss occurs in a child’s life, the more serious is the effect on the child’s development. Similarly, the earlier the hearing loss is identified and intervention begun, the more likely it is that the delays in speech and language development will be diminished. Recent research indicates that children identified with hearing loss who begin services before 6 months old develop language (spoken or signed) on a par with their hearing peers.
What If My Infant Fails the Screening?
Make sure that you make a follow up appointment with the audiologist who did the screening. Once the nature of the hearing loss has been established, there are various programs and protocols in place to help you to find the best care for your child. The State of Utah has an agency in place to help families with childhood hearing loss. This agency is called Children’s Hearing and Speech Services, or CHSS. The mission of CHSS is to assure optimal hearing, speech and language in Utah children, through a collaborative statewide system of education, prevention, early identification and intervention, diagnosis, referral and care coordination. You can find more information here: http://www.health.utah.gov/cshcn/CHSS/index.html.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that children who have hearing loss receive free, appropriate early intervention programs from birth to age 3 and throughout the school years (ages 3 to 21). Early intervention services for infants and toddlers are family-centered and are designed to:
- Help your child stay on schedule with his or her speech, language, and communication skills
- Enhance your understanding of your child’s hearing loss and special communication needs
- Support your family in a way that helps you feel confident in raising your child with hearing loss
- Keep track of your child’s progress and to make decisions for intervention and education each step of the way as your child develops
If you have any questions about infant hearing screenings or childhood hearing loss, please read this or give us a call at 801-770-0801.