November 3, 2012 - According to the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASPLA), and VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children, it is imperative to check the hearing health of your newborn by one (1) month of agebecause undiagnosed conditions that cause developmental delays can be avoided with screening. If hearing loss is confirmed, an appropriate intervention should be in place by six (6) months of age.
"Most deaf and 'hard of hearing' children whose hearing loss is identified early, and who receive the support they need, will develop appropriate communication and will be able to develop to their full potential alongside their hearing peers," says Joanne Charlebois, Executive Director of CASPLA.
"Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions present at birth and occurs more than any other condition for which newborn screening programs already exist."
CASPLA April 2012
The prevalence of hearing loss in newborns ranges from one to three per 1000; equal to approximately 1100-1200 new cases in Canada per year. In children with high risk factors for hearing loss such as prematurity or low birth weight, the prevalence of hearing loss can be as high as one in 100.
Hearing loss can affect a child's understanding and use of language as well as many other aspects of their development. Research shows that communication development in children with hearing loss is delayed compared to children with normal hearing. There is clear evidence that early identification of hearing loss can significantly reduce these negative consequences; which is why organizations like the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASPLA) and VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children are working hard to make Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) a reality across Canada.
Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) tests are easy, painless and cost-effective. UNHS is a standard of care in Canada with the exception of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland. A program is presently being implemented in Quebec.
- Babies who are deaf babble for a few months and then stop.
- Newborns can be tested for hearing loss and fitted with a hearing aid.
- Specialized testing used with neonates is non-invasive and can assess hearing in each ear.
Dino Sophocleos, President of the Hearing Foundation of Canada states, "Children and young people are especially vulnerable - they are undulated with noise through their entertainment choices, i.e. digital audio players, smartphones, gaming consoles, car stereos, concerts, and dance clubs, etc. – all of which can contribute to permanent noise damage."
In a recent study The American Medical Association revealed that 1 in 5 teens now has some degree of hearing loss, a 30% increase over the preceding decade. Exposure to noise seems to be a significant factor to this unprecedented incidence of hearing loss in teenagers and young adults, given the fact that ear infections have dropped by 30% over the same decade.
In 2006, the Hearing Foundation of Canada launched its 'Sound Sense Program', teaching children in elementary schools how to avoid noise induced hearing loss and "save their hearing for the music". In 2011, the program reached over 14,000 children and their families in 400 schools across Canada. Their mission is to obtain a partnership with the government and non-profit organizations that will allow them to reach every child and every parent with the message that hearing is a precious gift that must be safeguarded for life.
For more information please visit the following websites.
The Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASPLA) is the national professional association representing speech-language pathologists, audiologists and supportive personnel. For more information, news updates, articles and resources related to communication disorders please visit www.speechandhearing.ca
VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children is a parent support organization that strives to ensure that all children with hearing loss have their rights upheld with access to services with developing their abilities to learn to HEAR, LISTEN and SPEAK. For more information please go to www.voicefordeafkids.com or call 1-866-779-5144.
The Hearing Foundation of Canada (THFC) is a national non-profit, charitable organization committed to eliminating the devastating effects of hearing loss on the lives of Canadians by promoting prevention, early diagnosis, leading edge medical research and successful intervention. For more information please go to www.hearingfoundation.ca or call them at 1-866-HEAR YOU (432-7968).