In this health video learn about the importance of screening your child for hearing problems so their development is not delayed.
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Female Speaker: We're here at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Olivia Bramlyn Sutro is having her first hearing test. But don't wait for her to raise her hand when she hears a beep. The clicking in her ear is so soft that she's asleep, and her brain waves are responding for her. Angela Brannon: And we're actually testing both ears at the same time. Female Speaker: Is the test going on right now? Angela Brannon: Yeah. Female Speaker: Oh it is? Angela Brannon: Yes. Female Speaker: Though the average length of this test is ten minutes, a baby with perfect hearing can pass it in as few as 36 seconds if she's completely relaxed. Angela Brannon: There we are. She passed her test, both ears. So you can see pass, pass. And I'll just fill out her paperwork. Female Speaker: The vast majority of babies 98% pass in both ears. For those newborns who don't pass, more elaborate follow-up testing is required. The good news is that 9 out of 10 infants who initially pass in only one ear will later prove to have perfect hearing in both. But that still leaves a significant percentage of newborns who will suffer some degree of permanent hearing loss in one or both ears. For those children, early intervention is critical. Dr. Barbara Herrmann: In the first six months of life, babies are doing a lot of listening and we know now that if we can intervene catch them and intervene at six months, we can actually help them maintain normal language development. Female Speaker: Sam Garber was diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears before he was a week old. What can be done with a child so young? Quite a lot. Richard Garber: Well, Sam first started wearing his hearing aids at 17 days of age. And we started off at a very young age with intervention from a speech therapist. Cheryl Bakey: Here I go, I'm going to blow! Female Speaker: Sam and his mother Wendy come to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary once a month to visit with Speech Language Pathologist Cheryl Bakey. Cheryl Bakey: A lot of my job with him is helping the parents to understand what are some things we'd expect a child at his age to be doing, some things that they can be doing in the home to help move him to that next level. Female Speaker: Although Sam only wears a hearing aid in one ear, he has a mild to moderate hearing loss in both. That means he has enough hearing to respond to sounds without his hearing aids, but not enough to clearly distinguish words or soft sounds. Dr. Roland Eavey: A moderate hearing loss is the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ear. You're not deaf, but certainly you don't hear very well. Wendy Garber: Let's put your hearing aid in. Dr. Roland Eavey: And so for a baby to learn a language not hearing very well would be quite challenging. Wendy Garber: Okay, you're good to go. Sam: Cool. Female Speaker: For many months, the greatest challenge was simply keeping Sam's hearing aid in. He played with it, he threw it, he even tried to eat it. But thanks to the newborn hearing screening and his parent's efforts Sam is progressing remarkably well in his speech and language development and his hearing aid hasn't slowed him down at all. Wendy Garber: It's part of Sam, it's part of who he is. Our biggest challenge is to just make sure that he doesn't eat the hearing aid and we keep it in.