Why check my baby's hearing?

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Dear Parents,
For any parents who gave birth to a child locally and within the last several years, you may have noticed that your baby's hearing was checked before leaving the hospital using a method called OAE Testing.
This was not always the case.
Not so many years ago, the norm was to check only certain infant's hearing who were at high risk. This was done after discharge home. In fact when I trained not that many years ago, part of our training was to learn which infants were in a high risk groups for hearing loss and whom hearing testing would need to be arranged.

Long Island Jewish was actually one of few hospitals to take part in a pilot study to determine whether hearing screening in the newborn nursery was  an appropriate and effective means to predict hearing loss in children, before this practice later became the norm for infant care.

Most children who fail the newborn screening test will pass a repeat hearing test done a short time later. What about those that fail the repeat test.

CMV ( cytomegalovirus) is a virus frequently caught during childhood, but when contracted or less frequently  reactivated during pregnancy may cause hearing loss in your unborn child .

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 150 children are born each year with CMV they acquired from their mother. Approximately 1 in 5 of these babies will develop permanent problems such as hearing loss, microcephaly, vision loss, seizures or developmental disabilities. CMV is the most common non-genetic cause of childhood hearing loss.
In studies conducted by Dr Sunil Sood at Northwell Health it has been discovered that, when detected early, treatment begun by 1 month of age with an oral antiviral agent, these children had mild improvement in their hearing outcomes and to a smaller extent had improvement  in neurodevelopmental outcomes as well.

Therefore , states Dr Sood, children who failed their initial newborn hearing test in hospital should insist on additional hearing testing by 2 weeks of age.
A second failed hearing test should be followed by CMV testing ( a simple swab of the infant's cheek),and if positive, treatment should begin by 4 weeks of age.

How can I prevent the spread of CMV?

CMV is spread from person to person through body fluids. Day care workers, nurses, mothers of young children, and others who work with young children are at greatest risk of exposure to CMV.

Since young children commonly carry CMV, pregnant women and women planning pregnancies should take extra care to avoid urine and saliva from young children. The CDC recommends the following ways to avoid exposure to CMV:

Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds after changing diapers, feeding a young child, or handling children’s toys
Do not share food, drink, or eating utensils with young children
Do not put a pacifier in your mouth
Do not share a toothbrush with a young child
Avoid contact with saliva when kissing a young child
Clean toys, countertops, and other surfaces that come in contact with children’s urine or saliva

These are very exciting developments, and show how  best medical practice changes with time.
We have really come full circle,starting with increasing hearing screening testing to all infants and now arriving at a point where we are actually starting to be able to change the outcome in some of those who failed this testing.

"Could CMV Be the Cause of My Baby's Failed Hearing Test" by SUNIL K. SOOD, M.D.



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