Hearing is vital for language and cognitive development. Poor hearing can result in a child developing social and emotional problems. This is why Dr Maraschin advocates that children have their hearing screened as soon as possible.
A screening facility is available which allows for babies to be tested as early as twelve hours after birth. If your baby has not been tested, then it is never too late to do so. The testing is completely painless and in fact is usually done while the baby is asleep or feeding.
Two forms of screening are available. The first is Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) and the second Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR).
OAE involves a tiny probe being placed in the ear canal which then reads vibrations in the ear.
AABR involves electrodes being placed on the baby’s scalp which then monitors how well sound travels along the hearing nerve of the ear to the brainstem.
Dr Maraschin has a very experienced audiologist that he refers patients to for this screening, but there are a number of practitioners who can assist patients with such screening.
It is especially important for babies who have been in ICU to be screened. Other babies who are at risk for hearing problems would be those who have a history of familial hearing problems, those who have had recurrent ear infections, meningitis or head trauma.
It is interesting to note that even babies with hearing problems will still babble up to the age of about 6 months and may even be startled by loud noises. This makes it extremely difficult for a parent to determine if your baby is in fact hearing properly.
The screening is so simple and fast that regardless of the back ground of the child, such screening should form part of the well- baby program. In other countries baby’s may not leave the hospital until the hearing has been screened.
Dr Maraschin’s preference for such screening is to test the hearing at eight weeks of age. This allows for the fluid present in the middle ear at birth to clear and be replaced by air. This removes an interfering variable from the screening process.
Dr Maraschin thus encourages all parents to consider such screening before problems associated with poor hearing develop.