Iowa’s among the top states in the nation in screening the hearing of newborn babies. U of Iowa audiologist Lenore Holte says it’s critical to catch hearing loss as early as possible.Holte says probably 100 babies are born each year in Iowa with a hearing problem. Catching it right away can prevent a lot of the problems with speech and learning. Holte says high-tech new devices let doctors test a baby who’s far too young to talk. In most hospitals, a small probe is put into the baby’s ear canal and sounds are played. The tester sees whether sounds come back out. Iowa tests 97 percent of newborn babies for hearing, Nebraska and South Dakota test 54 percent, New York only 16 percent. Parents can’t always judge whether a baby has some hearing loss.She says, even if a child responds to noises, their hearing may not be good enough to develop normal speech. Holte says parents of any baby who fails the newborn hearing test should schedule a diagnostic evaluation.Most babies who fail the first hearing test turn out to have normal hearing. But the additional test is important because catching early hearing-loss and doing something about it early will have clear benefits.
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