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December 26, 2002

Newborn Hearing Loss Could Become Long-Term

From: WEWS, OH - 26 Dec 2002

Many Signs Could Indicate Problem

CLEVELAND -- One in every 2,000 children is born with some degree of hearing loss.

hearing loss

Unless a child fails a screening test and is diagnosed with hearing loss on a follow-up, parents may not realize there is a problem until the repercussions become permanent.

NewsChannel5's Alicia Booth reported on what parents can do to prevent long-term problems.

At just a few days old, Cierra Ely is taking a test.

"The computer reads electrical activity in response to sounds from the little plastic tip inside her ear canal," said Dr. Paul Kileny, an audiologist.

In about 10 minutes, a computer tells parents if their baby has hearing loss.

"Cierra passes her screen in both ears," Kileny said.

Kileny said that most parents aren't aware of the long-term risks of hearing loss.

"One of the most prominent effects and one of the most devastating effects would be a delay in the acquisition of speech and language," he said.

Parents can detect problems by watching for developmental milestones, starting at just a few months with babbling.

"If they have a significant hearing loss beyond 6 months of age, they stop these spontaneous vocalizations," Kileny said.

By 1 year old, children should say one or two words.

By age 3, they should be able to put together understandable short sentences.

"If they are completely unintelligible to anybody but the parents, again, that might indicate some degree of hearing loss," Kileny said.

Anna Penney was 16 months old when her parents found out she had only 65 percent of her hearing. Although hearing aids have helped her, her speech is behind.

"When she was 2, they said she had the speech of a 1-year-old," said Mary Lee Penney, Anna's mother. "When she was 3, they said (she was like a) 2-year-old."

Anna is improving, and for now, she doesn't let anything interfere with her fun.

Just finding out their child has hearing loss doesn't do any good if parents don't take steps to correct the problem and help the child catch up.

Hearing aids can be used immediately, and implants can be used as early as age 1, NewsChannel5 reported.

Copyright 2002 by NewsNet5. All rights reserved.