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What To Do When Your Baby Fails A Newborn Hearing Test

Babies delivered in a hospital are typically given a hearing test before they are allowed to go home. This is a simple screening process, and new parents are often shocked when they learn that their child has failed. The good news is that these tests can provide false positives up to 30 percent of the time, with only a small fraction of newborns suffering from actual hearing loss. If your baby has just failed newborn screening, these are the steps you can take to ensure that your child is developing normally.

Ruling Out Other Factors

Newborns are hard to test for any responsive condition, simply because they have no way of communicating what is really going on. Vernix, the waxy substance that sometimes coats newborns, can block hearing from within the ear canal, or the baby may have a fluid buildup in his or her middle ear. In other cases, your baby may have been upset and crying during the test, skewing the results. A second test at the hospital at a later time may reveal the false-positive result and send your baby home without further trouble. 

Running a Confirmation Test

If your baby fails the screening once or even twice, you will be recommended to a hearing specialist for more advanced testing. Although there may be nothing wrong with your newborn, it is very important to follow up on this, since hearing defects are still present in around 3 out of every 1000 babies. Your audiologist should be able to confirm your child’s hearing status either way and then begin identifying any problems. 

Conducting a Genetic Test

An estimated two-thirds of cases related to hearing loss are genetically inherited, and so the best way to understand your child’s condition may be to run genetic testing. This involves probing into your family’s medical history to discover any previous hearing issues, as well as taking a small blood sample for DNA analysis. A single mutated gene can shed light on your child’s results and suggest the best treatment plan. 

Beginning Treatment

If your child is a diagnosed with a hearing disorder, your hearing specialist will lay out the necessary treatment course or audio therapy program to help your newborn. Depending on the situation, this could involve medication, surgery or hearing device implants. Alternatively, your child could need help learning sign language and lip reading. No matter which course you choose, you can begin improving your child’s quality of life even during his or her first year, so long as you act quickly and follow up on the newborn screening results with a professional audiologist. Contact a clinic like Hearing Solutions Audiology Center for more information.

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