Approximately 2-3 out of every 1,000 babies are born with hearing loss in Pennsylvania. Recognizing the need to educate the public on the importance of newborn hearing screenings, the Pennsylvania legislature just passed a resolution designating September Newborn Screening Awareness Month.
The Importance of Newborn Hearing Screenings
Hearing loss negatively impacts the quality of life for people of all ages, but the consequences are even greater for babies born with impaired hearing. Infants and toddlers with hearing loss are likely to experience developmental delays in speech, language and social skills. Early intervention is key in improving a child’s communication skills and preventing learning and social problems that accompany hearing loss.
Does the CDC recommend newborn hearing testing?
Recognizing this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend a hearing screening for all babies before they are one month old. Most hospitals provide newborn hearing screenings immediately after birth or before babies are sent home.
Have you heard of Pennsylvania’s Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Program?
Pennsylvania’s Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Program addresses these recommendations by stipulating that all babies receive a hearing screening within the first 30 days following birth; are diagnosed within three months; and receive treatment or intervention services within six months.
If a child does not pass the initial screening, they receive a follow-up screen at the hospital.
If they fail the follow-up, the child’s PCP is notified and the Department of Health becomes involved, monitoring infants to make sure they receive timely follow-up care and pediatric treatment for hearing loss. The Department also offers infant hearing screening, educational outreach, and training for physicians, nurses, audiologists, early intervention staff and other health care professionals.
Why is it so important to test a newborn child’s hearing?
Time is of the essence because most children learn to speak by the age of 18 months; without a newborn hearing screening, hearing loss goes undetected until the child is two and a half years old more than 50 percent of the time. By then, they have missed out on key developmental milestones and the odds of long-term social and academic issues are considerably higher.
Who sponsored the newborn screening awareness month bill?
State Representative Angel Cruz, Democratic chairman of the House Human Services Committee, sponsored H.R. 475, recognizing September as Newborn Screening Awareness Month, to raise awareness about the importance of Pennsylvania’s Newborn Screening and Follow-Up Program. Explains Cruz, “Early detection allows for early intervention to ensure all babies have a chance to live healthy lives. It’s vital that we raise awareness of the importance of these screenings.”
For more information on newborn hearing screenings or if you’d like to learn more about identifying hearing loss in children, contact one of our hearing health professionals today.
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