Early intervention can make all the difference.
Every day, 33 babies are born in the United States with permanent hearing loss, making this the most common birth defect. If hearing loss is identified early and intervention takes place, children with hearing impairments can show dramatic improvements, be more successful in school, and become productive members of society.
That’s why CoxHealth began screening all newborns for hearing loss in 1997, and why the test has been mandated by Missouri since 2002.
The screening is safe, painless and takes less than 10 minutes. In fact, many babies sleep through it. During the test, we’ll place a tiny earphone in your baby’s ear canal. Advanced technology allows us to use a computer to measure the response from your baby’s ear. This is called an otoacoustic emission. In some situations, we may screen your baby by measuring their response through electrodes placed on their skin.
At CoxHealth, you’ll receive a yellow information card in your baby’s basinet when they pass the hearing screening.
Many babies who don’t pass the first screening have vernix in their ear canals. This is normal, and it may take a day or two for the ear canals to dry out. If your baby doesn’t pass the first time, they’ll be rescreened in the hospital. If your baby doesn’t pass the prescreening, we’ll ask you to come back to the nursery in two weeks for a repeat hearing screening.
Most babies pass at this point, but if your baby doesn’t you’ll be referred to an audiologist for a full hearing evaluation. It’s still possible your baby has normal hearing. But if not, early detection will allow us to start appropriate interventions as soon as possible – the very best thing that can happen for a baby with hearing loss.
Research has shown that children who receive appropriate treatment before 6 months of age are one to two years ahead children whose hearing loss was identified later in terms of language, cognitive development and social skills when they enter first grade.