Now Hear This
Thanks to state laws mandating universal newborn hearing screening, the percentage of babies screened for hearing loss at birth has risen from a dismal 25 percent in 1999 to a record 89.8 percent this year, according to the Washington, D.C.-based World Council on Hearing Health. (To see how your state ranks, go to wchh.com and click on "Newborn Hearing Health Report.")
Hospitals use one of two quick tests to screen for hearing loss: auditory brain stem response (ABR) and otoacoustic emissions (OAE). Both are painless and pose no risk to babies, who often sleep through them.
Earwax, fluid in the middle ear, and movement or crying during testing can cause babies with normal hearing to fail a test. As many as 10 percent of babies don't pass the first time, yet less than 1 percent actually have hearing loss. However, always be sure to follow up on a negative test result.
Ask your pediatrician if your child's hearing was screened at birth. If you live in an area that doesn't do mandatory screening, you may have to pay out of pocket (the tests cost between $35 and $50). It's well worth it.
Julie Evans is a mother of two in Cleveland.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2004.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.