Audiologist Zhanneta Shapiro Contributes to Article on Infant Hearing Aids
Hearing is critical for speech and language development, especially during the first two to three years of life, but about 12,000 babies are born with hearing loss each year in the U.S. Children who can't hear, or can't hear clearly, have difficulty detecting speech sounds and learning language, vocabulary, grammar and forms of verbal expressions. Delays during this critical period of speech and language development may cause a child to fall behind developmentally, academically and socially.
Signs of hearing problems in a baby include: failure to imitate sounds, lack of startle response, failure to turn his/her head toward the direction of mom or dad's voice and not waking to loud noises. Parents who suspect that a baby has a hearing loss should have the infant evaluated by a qualified hearing specialist.
Zhanneta Shapiro, AuD, Audiologist with NYU Langone Medical Center, says if the hospital hearing test suggests a possible hearing problem, the parents are referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) for a comprehensive evaluation. If hearing loss is confirmed, a baby will be fitted for a hearing aid. Shapiro says hearing aids can even be used in children younger than six months. Behind-the-ear hearing aids are preferred for children because they can easily be adapted as the child grows. Children with profound hearing loss may be offered a cochlear implant at around age one.