Posted March 27, 2015
The birth of a baby is a momentous and exciting experience. But as parents and family members bask in the joy of new life, it’s difficult to think about the possibility of the child having hearing difficulties. Medical research shows that diagnosing hearing problems at a young age improves the ability for deaf children to have good reading skills as teenagers, though.
Hearing experts report that 1 in 32 people carry a defective hearing gene. Since it’s a recessive gene, both parents may hear well, but their offspring have a 1 in 4 chance of having hearing deficiencies. Consider these facts:
- Half to three-fourths of newborns’ hearing loss could be due to faulty genes.
- Genetic syndromes also may cause hearing loss, including Down, Usher, Treacher Collins, Alport and Crouzons.
- During pregnancy, newborn hearing loss can be the result of the mother drinking or being diagnosed with German measles, a viral infection, or the flu.
- Other risk factors include low birth weight, jaundice, premature birth and difficulties experienced during delivery.
- Each state has different regulations and guidelines for newborn hearing tests. Some mandate testing at birth must be covered by insurance while others underwrite the cost.
- Newborn hearing screenings are painless and take less than 30 minutes.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery provides information on signs to look for in infants with hearing problems:
- When loud noises occur, the baby doesn’t wake up from sleeping, startle, move or cry, and doesn’t turn his or her head toward the sound.
- Cannot imitate sounds.
- Isn’t soothed by voices of adults who care for him or her.
- At one year, struggles to understand simple phrases or requests.
Researchers in England evaluated the reading abilities of deaf teens. They discovered that children who had hearing evaluations as an infant and were diagnosed as deaf had better reading and language skills than those who were not screened. The studies confirm that deaf teens screened and diagnosed as infants tended to read more difficult material more frequently.
Hearing experts believe that parents of deaf newborns seek learning resources for their children as soon as possible, to ensure their kids have opportunities to develop and not have deafness handicap their learning.