Dakota Newborn Hearing Tests
Two-year-old Blake Miller is a very animated little boy. The only things that set him apart from any other toddler are the tiny hearing aids in each ear. "He received his first set of hearing aids at three-months of age," says Avera McKennan Audiologist Teresa Fendrich. Before Blake was discharged from the hospital, he was given a newborn hearing test. His mom, Jenny Miller recalls, "It was a pass/fail test and he didn't pass it, so we had to come back."
Fendrich says newborn hearing tests are crucial. "Kids may respond to sound at home, they may startle as infants giving you ever indication that they're hearing, but can still have enough loss to interfere with speech and language development."
Now, every baby discharged from Avera McKennan is tested. Fendrich says before the tests were available, hearing loss sometimes wasn't discovered until kids were two to three years old. Fendrich continues to monitor Blake's hearing, changing the testing techniques as he gets older. "We're just trying to make a game of it, get him ready to give us really reliable ear-specific information by when he hears a sound to do a task."
Fendrich says the goal is to identify hearing loss in a child by age three-months, and have intervention in place by six-months. Fendrich adds, "The whole message is that the brain is waiting to hear speech and language a whole lot earlier than we ever imagined."
As for little Blake, he meets with a speech therapist every week, and developmentally is right where he's supposed to be. His mom says, "We just see endless possibilities for him and we are so blessed that they had this newborn test because otherwise we don't know where we would be today with him." Fendrich says even if your newborn is given a hearing test, you'll still want to monitor you child's speech and language development, because it can change.
By Leslie Rupiper
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