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Pediatric Audiologist Answers #1 Question

Why Does My Child Need Another Hearing Test?

Ellen Quinn, Pediatric Audiologist for Rainbows’ Infant Toddler/Services (ITS), provides audiological services for children enrolled in Rainbows’ ITS program, for infants and toddlers ages 0-3 years old, living in Butler, Sedgwick and Sumner counties. As an audiologist, one of the most common questions she is asked is “Why does my child need another hearing test?  They had their hearing tested shortly after birth and passed. They should be fine, right?”

Universal newborn hearing screenings became the norm in most hospitals throughout the United States in the late 1990’s, so we now have over 20 years of data to look at and study.  The data shows hearing loss in early childhood, whether it be permanent or temporary, often begins well after discharge from the hospital or birth center.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 3 in 1,000 children experience permanent hearing changes after the newborn period.   Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Guidelines for Hearing Screening (Birth -21) agree with the statement from the AAP and recommend children have their hearing checked multiple times throughout childhood.

One of the most common causes of transient or temporary hearing loss in children, and the one parents are probably most familiar with, is ear infection.  When an ear infection occurs, fluid builds up behind the eardrum thus making it difficult for sound to travel as it normally would through the entirety of the ear’s hearing mechanism.   Adults who experience ear infections describe the experience as trying to listen under water or listening with a finger stuck in their ear.  This explains why children with frequent or chronic ear infections often experience some degree of speech and/or language delay.   It means ear infections, particularly chronic ear infections, need to be taken seriously and medically evaluated to determine the best course of action for the child.

If a parent or provider has concerns about the hearing status of a young child, then a diagnostic hearing test should be considered.  Most ENT doctor offices offer audiological or hearing evaluation services.  So do independently owned audiology practices.   Rainbows offers both hearing screenings and diagnostic audiological services to children enrolled in the ITS tiny-k programs serving Butler, Sedgwick and Sumner counties at no cost to the family.  Talk to your child’s primary therapist about making an audiology referral if you have any concerns. Parents not enrolled in the ITS program may call Rainbows directly at 316.267.5437. Early identification and intervention are our goals.

By Ellen Quinn, Pediatric Audiologist