Patricia, a lactation educator at Overlake Women’s Clinic, was at the park with her grandchildren. Her grandson found a new friend at the park and after they had talked and played for quite awhile, Patricia struck up a conversation with this new playmate’s mother. When the mother learned Patricia works at the Women’s Clinic, she related how this little boy playing had been identified to require further testing to rule out hearing loss during their post-partum follow up appointment at the Women’s Clinic. After further testing with an audiologist, hearing loss was determined and this infant was able to receive a cochlear implant at a very early age. Because of this, his speech and language have not experienced the delays usually associated with childhood hearing loss. She was so thankful for the expert care she received at the Women’s Clinic and the referral for follow up.
Most children hear and listen to sounds even before birth. Speech is developed by hearing and imitating the sounds they hear coming from their parents and other people who care for them. But for every 1,000 children born in the United States, two to three are born deaf or hard of hearing. Early intervention for these children is essential to ensure they have all the resources available for the best chance to develop speech and language as successfully as Patricia’s new friend. For this reason, every state has established an Early Hearing Detection and Intervention programs. Overlake Medical Center has actively participated in Washington’s program since its inception and has one of the most successful Newborn Hearing Screen programs in the state because of our unique approach to this testing. Our dedicated staff closely follows up with families to ensure appropriate screening, re-screening and follow up occurs for every baby, resulting in one of the highest rates of follow up in the state.
FAQ’s about Hearing Screening at Overlake Medical Center:
When will my baby’s hearing be screened?
Your baby’s hearing will be screened during your post-partum follow up visit at the Women’s Clinic. If you are a Group Health patient or are unable to attend your post-partum visit, you will come to the Women’s Clinic, after you go home with your baby, for a separate hearing screening. You will be told the results of your test at the time of your screening and receive a certificate when your baby passes. If your baby does not pass the first time, it may be due to fluid or debris in the ear canal and you will be scheduled for a rescreen in three weeks. If the results indicate your baby may have hearing loss, you will receive your next steps for further testing.
How will my baby’s hearing be screened?
The otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test shows whether parts of the ear respond properly to sound. During this test, a soft sponge earphone is inserted into your baby’s ear canal and emits a series of sounds to measure an “echo” response from the cochlea that occurs in normal hearing ears. If there is no echo, it could indicate hearing loss. These sounds are soft and the test is not painful in any way.
Why is it important to have my baby’s hearing screened early?
The most important time for a child to learn language is in the first three years of life. In fact, children begin learning speech and language in the first six months of life. Research suggests that children with hearing loss who get help early develop better language skills than those who don’t. The earlier you know about a child’s hearing loss, the sooner you can make sure your child benefits from strategies that will help him or her learn to successfully communicate.
As you embark on the wonderful journey of parenthood, rest assured that your child’s hearing will be tested with the greatest of care at Overlake Medical Center.