Hearing Test Important for Newborns

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By Larry Burkum

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - About one out of every one thousand babies are born deaf or hard of hearing. Doctors say that's why hearing loss testing is recommended for all newborns.

From day one, babies react to the sounds around them. Over time, by listening to voices, they learn speech and language, which aid in cognitive development.

"You can't learn to talk unless you hear well. The evidence shows that if they do have a hearing problem and your able to correct it- then they have normal or close to normal language development," said Dr. Robert Wiskind, a pediatrician.

The most common test involves a tiny earphone with a microphone in it which is inserted into the baby's ear and sends a sound. If a baby hears normally, an echo is sent back. If no echo is detected, then further tests may be done.

The test is usually given around 20 hours after birth. It is quick, painless and can be done in the mother's room while the baby sleeps.

The goal is to identify the more than six thousand babies sent home each year with undetected hearing problems.
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