At birth, mandatory newborn hearing screening identifies babies who require referrals for rescreening or follow up services. If your baby is referred, it is important to make a follow up appointment with a pediatric audiologist as soon as possible. Although your baby had a hearing test at birth, some babies may lose hearing later because of illness, injuries, medicine, or a family history of hearing loss. Watch for signs of hearing loss as your baby grows.
Early Identification, Amplification and Intervention is Critical
● Babies born with hearing loss are not starting from the same point as a child with typical hearing – as they have missed out on 20 weeks of development of their auditory brain pathways, as well as the neural development missed before they are diagnosed. Babies born with hearing loss are starting from a point of neurological emergency because they have a limited window of time in which to catch up.
● During the first three years of life, vital connections are made in the central nervous system that are uniquely attuned to receive auditory and linguistic information. In the absence of auditory information, nature has efficiently arranged for alternate use of the brain areas reserved for deciphering hearing, space that can not be reclaimed as effectively again.
● The focus must be on early detection, amplification and enhanced listening experiences to urgently develop auditory neural connections so that optimal developmental periods for brain growth can be maximized.
In the United States, more children are born with hearing loss than any other congenital health issue. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association various studies estimate that between 1-6 per 1,000 newborns are born with hearing loss. 9 out of every 10 children are born to parents who can hear.
Without programs like Sound Start, children with mild to moderate hearing loss, on average, achieve one to four grade levels lower than their peers with normal hearing. Children with severe to profound hearing loss usually achieve skills no higher than the third-or-fourth-grade level.
(The American Speech-Hearing Association)
When babies with hearing loss get the appropriate intervention from birth to age three, they can acquire age communication skills by the time they are five.
(Robinshaw, 1995 and Moeller, 1996; Yoshinaga-Itano, 1999)
One hour of early intervention therapy with the child and family learning together translates into 84 hours of education and therapy time when family member follow the model at home with their child on a daily basis.
(Lee Ann Jung, PhD)
Early identification and intervention for children with hearing loss can save schools approximately $420,000 per child in special education services, and has a lifetime savings to the community of approximately $1 million per individual.
(Johnson JL, Mauk GW, Takekawa KM, Simon PR, Sia CCJ, Blackwell PM)