Yes, it has a federal law in the United States requiring a newborn hearing test before an infant is discharged from the hospital. But it isn’t the single reason why parents should consent to a hearing test for their newborn babies!
Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends newborn hearing screenings. If a newborn didn’t undergo a hearing screening before being discharged from the hospital for any reason, the Academy recommends it by one month of age. In case of hearing issues, the baby should be enrolled in an early intervention program as early as three months or six months, at the latest.
This brings us to the question: Why are hearing screening tests so necessary that federal law and the AAP requires it?
Sense for Learning
Babies learn by listening to the sounds around them and develop their speech through their sense of hearing, too. Keep in mind, too, that the sense of hearing is so important in the womb – babies have been shown to turn their head and/or body toward the source of the sound.
This is the reason why obstetricians-gynecologists recommend pregnant mothers talk to their unborn babies and listen to music. These activities can enhance a baby’s sense of hearing when in the womb.
The newborn screening and diagnosis are of crucial importance in determining whether your baby has hearing-related issues, such as being hard of hearing or deaf. Without them, it’s difficult to know about the changes in hearing in the first months and years of your baby’s life.
Don’t rely on your personal observations about your baby’s response to external sounds, such as being startled by a loud sound or turning his head toward the sound. Such a response doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby can actually hear all external sounds. Babies who are either hard of hearing or deaf may hear certain sounds but may be unable to hear enough to hear and understand the spoken language.
Early Intervention as a Must
Infants who are hard of hearing or deaf need the right level of care and support from their parents and family, as well as the appropriate early intervention services. The wholistic approach is a must in the baby’s healthy development.
Otherwise, your baby’s communication skills in general and language skills in particular will be adversely affected, if he’s diagnosed later on to be hard of hearing or deaf. Indeed, a missed diagnosis hearing loss will also have adverse impact on your child’s socio-emotional development, academic achievements, and quality of life.
The earlier the intervention, the better the prognosis. This is the general rule for infants with hearing issues, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends early intervention as early as six months old.
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