Local News

Hospitals Work Quickly To Determine Infant Hearing Loss

Posted March 23, 2005 6:03 a.m. EST

— Hospitals are trying to catch the problem of hearing loss in infants as early as possible.

Cortina Harris is more than happy to have nurses at Rex Hospital test her baby girl, Sydney, for problems.

"You know you worry from the time that you're pregnant until you actually see her and they tell you that she's OK," Harris said.

One test measures Sydney's response to sound. She passes with flying colors, but not every child does.

"Two babies per 1,000 will have a hearing loss, and it actually is the most common congenital birth problem," said Dr. Laurie Cain, of Rex Hospital.

Tyler Hartman was one of those two out of 1,000. Brad and Jennifer Hartman learned Tyler's hearing loss was only mild to moderate. Hearing aids on both ears help him hear everything.

"Cars driving by when we're strolling, water running, he'll pay attention to it," Brad said.

More importantly, Tyler hears his mom and dad's voice. He is developing normally. but his parents wonder where they would be without the screening, diagnosis and help.

"He probably would have gone through his first three or four years of life losing a lot of the things he needed to be successful in life," Brad said.

"We understand that not all states do it, so we would definitely recommend it because it's extremely important to catch it early on," Jennifer said.

Even children who pass the infant screening could still develop hearing problems later on. It is a challenge for nurses to perform all the recommended infant tests before the mother and child go home. Trained volunteers at Rex Hospital do half of all infant hearing tests.