Our ability to hear plays a vital role in our cognitive development from the moment of birth. According to the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM), if it remains undetected, even mild hearing loss or hearing loss in one ear has serious consequences. Research shows that children with hearing loss in one ear are ten times more likely to be held back at least one grade when compared to children with normal hearing. In 1993, the National Institute of Health concluded that all infants should be screened for hearing impairment and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Audiology, the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, and the National Association of the Deaf have recommended that all babies be screened for hearing loss before they leave the hospital. Thus far, twenty-two states have legislation mandating that hospitals screen all newborns for hearing loss. The NCHAM adds that, nevertheless, seventy-five percent of birthing hospitals do not screen hearing for all babies prior to their discharge. According to the NCHAM, a screening procedure costing between $10 and $50 per baby could help save upwards of $400,000 in special education costs accumulated by the time a child with hearing loss graduates from high school.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) provides a list of guidelines and milestones for parents to reference when monitoring infant and toddler hearing and speech development. Some of the early stage milestones include:
Early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment for hearing challenges can keep a child on the road to a normal development cycle with his or her full potential in sight. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your childs ability to hear, consult with your family physician or pediatrician immediately.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website www.nidcd.nih.gov; October 4, 2004.
National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management website www.infanthearing.org; October 4, 2004.
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