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Finding Hearing Loss Early

boy with nurse

To ensure healthy social and educational development, it’s crucial to detect hearing loss in babies and children as early as possible.

Sue Ellen Boyer, AuDExperts know that the first three years of life are the most intense time for brain development in terms of processing speech and sounds, learning to talk and gaining language skills. “It’s imperative to  identify children who have hearing loss early-by three months of age-and to treat the hearing loss within the first six months,” says Sue Ellen Boyer, AuD, audiologist at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC). “When we can accomplish this goal, a healthy baby’s cognitive, language, social and emotional development can be comparable to peers with normal hearing.”

Including New Jersey, 43 states (plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico) have mandated newborn hearing-screening programs. MMCSC provides complete follow-up testing for newborns who may have failed their initial hearing screening. “The testing includes high-frequency tympanometry, Otoacoustic emissions (dpOAEs) and auditory brainstem response studies (ABR),” says Dr. Boyer. “Such testing provides invaluable information on the status of an infant’s middle ear, cochlea and auditory pathway from the ear to the brainstem.”

Screening Older Children Many pediatrician and school nurses do annual hearing screening of school-aged children. However, this isn’t mandated. Because hearing is a critical part of so many areas of development, it’s essential to have hearing assessed while children are school aged. “Typically, if there’s a delay in speech development, parental or educational concern or a history of chronic ear infections, an audiological evaluation is warranted,” explains Dr. Boyer. This testing, which is tailored to the child’s age and developmental level, includes an assessment of middle ear and inner ear function, as well as the hearing sensitivity across different frequencies and how well the child understands speech.

“Parents are often the first to suspect hearing loss in their child,” says Dr. Boyer. “Do not ignore this concern. Testing is easy and painless, and, most importantly, can get your child the help he or she needs to succeed.”

To have your child’s hearing evaluated by MMCSC’s Audiology department, call 732-942-5921.