It is a problem that must be detected in time, as early as possible, in order to avoid one of the most serious consequences: the absence of language. With the new current protocols, deafness can be detected in the neonatal period . It is a simple and painless examination and allows an early diagnosis. The deaf child may appear to be a “normal” developmental child up to 18 or 24 months of age, diagnosing a delay in the development or acquisition of speech.
There are two accurate, simple and painless diagnostic tests. They are examinations that do not require the collaboration of the child, they detect the transmission of sound from the ear to the brain, diagnosing whether the functioning of the ear is normal or defective.
- Brainstem auditory response: evaluates the response of the brain at the level of the brainstem to see if the ear captures and transmits sounds correctly.
- Evoked otoemissions test: Evaluates the function of the inner ear when stimulated.
Baby warning signs
It is important to observe the behavior of the newborn during the first months of life when faced with sound stimuli. In the first and second month the child blinks, startles or wakes up to sudden noises or noises of a certain intensity. The human voice, especially that of the mother, is capable of reassuring him and makes him adopt an attitude of attention. As he grows, between 3 and 5 months of age, he is able to turn his attention, gaze or head to the side from which a clear sound or voice is coming. From 6 to 9 months he is able to search for the source of the voice or sound with interest, moving his head and body to observe it.
If the child does not meet the developmental milestones explained above, the possibility of having a hearing problem should be assessed.
Whenever you have doubts about your child’s hearing, go to your pediatrician or children’s otolaryngologist for an evaluation.
Risk factors in the newborn that can cause deafness
- Family history of childhood deafness.
- Intrauterine infections such as cytomegalovirus, rubella, syphilis, herpes or toxoplasmosis.
- Head and neck malformations.
- Birth weight less than 1,500 gr.
- Severe hyperbilirubinemia.
- Use of toxic substances during pregnancy.
- Meningitis bacteriana.
- APGAR score of 0 to 4 at one minute or 0 to 6 at five minutes.
- Mechanical ventilation for 5 or more days.
- Syndromes that occur with sensorineural deafness.
What is done after diagnosis
When a child is diagnosed with mild hearing loss, it is monitored by the parents and the pediatrician in routine check-ups.
If the diagnosis is moderate hearing loss , the child should be stimulated at home and periodically checked by the ENT specialist.
If the deafness is severe, the child is checked at 4 months of age and the baby is stimulated by specialists, always with the participation of the family.
The treatment is carried out in a multidisciplinary way, with the participation of ENT specialists, speech therapists, audiologists, paediatricians, radiologists, geneticists, parent and deaf associations and the family itself.
- early stimulation
- speech therapy treatment
- Hearing aid treatment
- One of the most important consequences is the absence of language, so it is convenient to detect it in time.
- Whenever there are doubts about the child’s hearing, it is essential to go to the pediatrician or children’s otolaryngologist for evaluation.
- Most health companies have a Pediatric Orientation service and some have a specific program for Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Childhood Deafness.