According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 to 3 children out of 1,000 in the U.S. are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears. This makes hearing loss the number one birth defect in America.
Early Identification and Intervention
Any kind of early hearing loss can be a serious problem and can undermine the foundation of language development, which experts believe is built during the early months and years of life. If undiagnosed and untreated, pediatric hearing impairment can result in major language development problems, poor academic achievement, and behavioral/social issues.
The Speech and Hearing Center tests the hearing of infants through Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing, which does not require sedation of any kind. Avoiding anesthesia is imperative clinically and economically. There’s less risk and less costs.
We use the Vivosonic Integrity V500, the world’s only wireless system for auditory electrophysiological assessment and hearing screening, to collect ABR data using digital, signal-processing techniques. This technology particularly helpful with restless, uncooperative patients, like young children.
The recommendation from the State of Tennessee’s Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, is that any newborns who fail their initial in-hospital hearing screening be re-screened by 1 month of age. The Speech & Hearing Center is the only local organization able to swiftly schedule in-office newborn re-screenings without requiring a doctor’s referral. This is critical when aspiring toward early identification and preventing the development of speech delays.
Please note, we do not rescreen NICU graduates or those with other significant risk factors at the Center. These high-risk babies should not be rescreened in the outpatient setting due to the higher incidence of hearing loss and so as not to delay access to intervention. These newborns are instead referred to a specialized pediatric audiologist for comprehensive diagnostic testing as soon as possible. A diagnosis is recommended by 3 months of age.