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December 3, 2002

Isabell made history while fast asleep

From: Port Macquarie News, Australia - 03 Dec 2002


TINY Isabell Knaack was fast asleep when she became the first baby in Port Macquarie to be routinely screened for hearing defects.

Three small electrode patches were attached to the newborn's forehead, cheek and the nape of her neck before a tiny probe was inserted into her ear.

A series of short sound waves was then used to determine if Isabell was born with moderate, severe or profound hearing loss.

Beginning this week, the two-minute test will be offered to all parents of newborns at Port Macquarie Base Hospital and other major hospitals in New South Wales.

It's part of a new campaign to detect and treat hearing loss before it begins to hinder speech and language development.

Hospital maternity ward nurse unit manager Sandra Eadie said early intervention for babies with hearing loss was crucial.

"A lot of research shows that detection and intervention by the age of six months may be crucial for speech and language development," she said.

"Early intervention could even reduce the need for ongoing special education."

It is estimated two per 1000 babies born will have moderate, severe or profound hearing loss.

"Currently the average age of detection of hearing loss is around 18 months," Ms Eadie said.

"But this technology should improve this and allow professionals to intervene earlier."

Four babies have been screened in Port Macquarie since the program was introduced in Monday.

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