Newborn Hearing Screening
Hearing impairment is the most common disability at birth. Every year nearly 4,000 babies are born in the United States with hearing impairments. “For children not screened for hearing loss at birth, the average age of identification is 2-1/2 to 3 years of age, well after the most critical period for language development has passed,”explains Barb Nimocks, Richland Hospital Birth Center Unit Coordinator.
“Many people do not realize that hearing aids and therapy are available for infants as soon as they are a few weeks old.” Research shows that infants identified at birth for hearing impairment have a greater opportunity to develop within the normal range of language comprehension, verbal expression and psycho-social development, than do children identified later.
“We are using the ‘gold standard’ in newborn hearing screening,” said Nimocks. “The Algo Newborn Hearing Screener tests the baby’s entire hearing pathway, from the ear to the brainstem. It records the baby’s brainwave responses to a series of soft clicks and compares them to a pattern of normal responses.” The testing is non-invasive, and takes from 2 to 15 minutes. Parents have the results prior to discharge from the hospital.