“If a baby is born with hearing loss, it’s an invisible thing that you really can’t tell at first,” says Todd Huffman, Audiologist and Newborn Hearing Screening Coordinator at Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital.
Throughout Utah, baby’s first hearing test takes place about 24-hours after birth. If baby fails the screening in the nursery, then they will have a follow up screening before two weeks of age. If they fail the second test, then a diagnostic test is scheduled as soon as possible.
Risk factors of hearing loss including having a family history as well as exposure to certain viruses such as Cytomegalovirus (CMV). If a pregnant woman contracts CMV, then the virus can be passed along to the baby.
“If a baby is born with the virus it can be invisible, but hearing loss is sometimes the only indicator of that virus,” says Huffman.
Cytomegalovirus is easily preventable. When a mom is pregnant, she needs to frequently wash her hands, not share utensils and cups with toddlers, and avoid kissing toddlers on the mouth.
There are a few different treatment options available for children diagnosed with hearing loss. Talk with your provider about what is best for you and your child.
“Very often a baby will be fitted with hearing aids. Some parents choose a manual communication method like American Sign Language,” says Huffman.
Children begin learning about language and communication from the moment they are born which is why it’s important to detect any hearing loss as soon as possible.
“The earlier we can find out, the better the outcome will be. The main goal is that the child is able to communicate with the parent,” says Huffman.
Children who pass their initial hearing screening will likely be screened again around preschool age. However, if you notice your child is struggling with speaking, communication, or language in general, check with your doctor to see if hearing loss might be the reason.
For more information about newborn hearing screenings contact the Utah Department of Health Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program at 801-584-8215 or https://health.utah.gov/cshcn/programs/ehdi.html