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Hearing loss is the most common birth defect among newborns, occurring in three out of 1,000 babies. At Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, we believe that every baby should be screened for hearing loss shortly after birth. Audiologists and specially trained screeners are available seven days a week to perform hearing exams. The standard of care far exceeds State of Florida mandates, so we deliver the highest quality hearing services for babies and their families.
The Infant Hearing Screening is performed in the room while the mother watches. This technique is imperative in building a relationship between the parent of the baby and the audiologist. Using the Automated Brainstem Response (ABR) screening technology, the screener can determine a pass/fail response for each ear. Tiny headphones are placed on the baby’s head, while sensors are attached to the neck and forehead. A soft click or tone plays in each ear and the sensors will retrieve the response according to brainwaves. The test only takes about fifteen minutes and is so gentle that in most cases the baby sleeps through it.
If a baby does not pass the first hearing screen, a second test will be conducted. Upon the failure of the second test, an audiologist will perform a more complex exam called SoundGene™. SoundGene™ is now available to identify some of the most common types of hearing loss in infants. Approximately 50% of all hearing loss cases are related to genetic factors. With just a tiny prick from the baby’s heel and a few drops of blood, DNA-based testing is performed. If hearing loss is detected, the audiologist may suggest a hearing aid.
When left untreated, hearing loss can affect a child’s social, emotional and academic development. Early detection, therefore, is critical. The quicker a hearing loss problem is diagnosed, the sooner your baby can receive the necessary treatment. Hearing health is crucial in motor skills and speech development. Babies build communication skills from the moment of their birth. Because babies learn to speak by listening, early screening will give them a fair chance to adapt to their impairment and develop healthy motor skills.
Educational literature about hearing loss is provided in English, Spanish, Creole, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, French and Vietnamese to guarantee the correct information is being communicated. Brochures highlight the milestones for required hearing tests, so they can be educated on the typical expectations for their child’s hearing development.