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December 4, 2002

Parents should watch for signs of hearing problems

From: News 8 Austin, TX - 04 Dec 2002

By: PARENTING Magazine

Every year, some 24,000 babies are born with hearing problems, which often go undetected.

Although screenings are available, less than half of all newborns are tested before leaving the hospital.

So it's important to know your child's hearing test history.

Thirty-seven states now test a child's hearing at birth.

Although as many as six babies in a thousand have a hearing impairment, half of them are not identified until the age of 2 or 3.

PARENTING Magazine says if you're concerned, don't delay a screening.

"Children talk and report what they hear, so if they're hearing impaired that's going to affect their language development," said Dr. Jackie Blackwell-White, a pediatrician.

How can you tell whether your child needs testing? Language delay is an important clue, but in babies there are signs too.

"Newborns are very good at tuning out the world, but certainly by 3 or 4 months your child should react to loud, sudden loud noises, and if your child isn't, that's a cue," Blackwell-White said.

In the meantime, don't take your child's hearing for granted: Watch out for noisy toys - sirens, pops and even talking dolls can cause permanent hearing loss. Test a toy by holding it six inches away from your ear, if you have to raise your voice, it's too loud.

Repeated ear infections can muffle your child's hearing and affect speech.

Copyright © 2002 TWEAN News Channel of Austin, L.P. d.b.a. News 8 Austin