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December 17, 2007

Information about hearing loss lacking for new parents

Hearing loss is the most common birth defect. But few know what to do to provide the best possible conditions for a newborn with hearing loss.

One in three newborns who fail their hearing test shortly after they are born is not diagnosed, and many of those receive no follow-up care, according to data from the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) and the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM). This may result in delayed speech development, which may be hard to overcome later. Delayed speech development may, in turn, affect the development social skills.

Among those, who are diagnosed as a result of the hearing screening, the parents of almost one in four are not made aware of the options for helpful early intervention services.

”The options for children with hearing loss are much greater now than ever before, but we need to do better at making the options available to them”, says former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop.

More information, please!

Many strides forward have been made in recent years. In the mid-1990’s just seven states in the United States had laws mandating hearing screening of newborns. Today, 40 states offer this service, and 95 percent of all newborns have their hearing tested. The average age for receiving a first diagnosis of hearing loss has declined from 30 years to just three months of age.

“We have made tremendous progress, yet most parents still are not prepared for hearing loss or aware of the options for addressing it”, said Karen Youdelman, president of AG Bell. “There is no time to waste. We have a responsibility to make sure families know that children begin to learn language by hearing it first and that the first few months in a baby’s life are the most important”.

A hearing screening takes about nine minutes and should be carried out before the newborn reaches the age of one month.


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