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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Dr. Murray Feingold: Hearing now tested at age 2 months

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  • At times, it is difficult to be certain if an infant has hearing loss. However, it is important to determine if the baby is hearing impaired because the sooner the diagnosis is made, the sooner services can be offered. Early treatment will improve the child’s speech and language development.
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention introduced a program to identify hearing loss at an early age. More than 30 states now have newborn screening examinations to detect hearing loss.
    As of result of this early testing, the diagnosis of hearing loss, which previously was being made at 2 ½ years of age, is now being made at age 2 months.
    Infants who do not pass the newborn screening test are scheduled for a follow-up visit for further evaluations and treatments.
    Unfortunately, approximately 40 percent of these patients do not attend these follow-up visits. There are various reasons for this lack of following up including the parents not understanding the importance of their child undergoing further evaluations. Another realistic issue is the inability, for many reasons, of the parents to travel to the diagnostic facility. Fortunately, high tech has come to the rescue to address this situation in the form of tele-audiology.
    Two-way tele-audiology consists of audio and video communication between the audiologist at one site and the patient at another site, closer to their home.
    At the patient’s site is an individual trained to do such things as positioning the otoscope, the instrument that is inserted into the infant’s ear, and applying the electrodes. Computers at both sites are connected to each other, as is the diagnostic equipment.
    Studies have determined that tele-audiology has been successful. Published results have shown that this technology is not only feasible but also provides similar high-quality evaluations as those done in-person.
    There also is evidence that using this technology closer to where the families live decreases the number of patients who are lost in follow-up. This is good news because such follow-up examinations, and then instituting treatment programs, helps the youngster with a hearing loss reach his or her potential.
    Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.

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