Newborn Hearing Screening
Littleton Regional Healthcare offers a newborn hearing-screening program for infants born at the hospital.
We use a screening technology based upon the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test. The ABR screener tests the infant's hearing pathway, from the ear to the brainstem. It records brainwave responses to a series of soft clicks and compares them to a pattern of normal responses. The test, which is conducted while the infant sleeps, is non-invasive, and takes from 4 to 7 minutes. Parents have the results before the child is discharged.
With the implementation of the newborn screening program, we can effectively address the needs of children born with hearing loss and offer help to their families. This is a valuable program, one that Littleton Regional Healthcare is proud to offer to the community. The hospital's obstetric nursing staff has received training on the use of the ABR equipment and does the initial newborn hearing-screening test.
Nearly 24,000 babies are born in the United States each year with hearing loss. Without the ability to hear, an infant cannot master communication skills. The critical period of opportunity to acquire language is from birth to 3 years, yet on average; infants with hearing impairment are not detected until the child reaches two years of age or later with mild hearing loss. Children with a hearing loss that goes undetected may never catch up with a normal hearing child. This situation can have a profound impact on the child's life, affecting not only language and learning abilities but also the child's social and emotional development. The key is early detection so that treatment can be started early, states the position statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
A 1997 study done at the Marion Downs National Center for Infant Hearing reported that normal hearing children at age 3 have a vocabulary of between 500 and 1000 words. If a hearing loss goes undetected until the child reaches the age of two, a child's vocabulary is limited to only 0 to 50 words. If a hearing impairment is discovered at birth and treated, that child will develop a vocabulary of 350 to 700 words, which is within the normal range. An estimated $129 million dollars could be added to the U.S. economy each year if children born deaf were provided early intervention that resulted in superior language skills.
For additional information on Littleton Regional Healthcare's newborn hearing screening, please call the Agnes Norris Birthing Center at Littleton Regional Healthcare (603) 444-9567.