When a baby is born it is relatively helpless. The child relies on others to take care of it. Usually the way a baby acts will let the caregiver know if a child is hungry, needs to be burped, or have a diaper changed. Imagine being the caregiver of a child, sensing that something is wrong with him or her, but being unable to communicate with the baby to know the problem or how you can help. This is what it is like when your baby suffers from hearing loss - infants can't tell us what they hear or whether they even hear at all. One of our patient families shared the following with us:
"For families like mine, newborn hearing screenings are priceless. Early identification allowed for early intervention and getting the right supports set up for our family. Timing is everything when it comes to babies that are born deaf or hard of hearing and the sooner hearing loss is identified the sooner early intervention can happen."
Nationally, for every 1,000 babies born, three to four will have a hearing loss at birth that can only be detected by sophisticated equipment.
Prior to infant hearing screens, hearing loss was not found until much later at 3 or 4 years of age. Sometimes not until 1st or 2nd grade. This seriously impacted a child’s early learning and social development. The better the infant can hear; the better his or her speech will be later in life. Another family told us the following:
“As a mom of a child who failed his newborn hearing screening and went on to need cochlear implants due to profound hearing loss, I can’t imagine having to wait till a later date to get my son screened . . . With our second son I had a lot of anxiety wondering if he too would require tons of intervention. By him passing the newborn hearing screening it allowed me to enjoy and bond with him without wondering and worrying about him not being able to hear me.”
Trinity Health has been involved in infant hearing screenings for over 20 years, and we handle 1,300 to 1,500 births per year. Trinity Health’s Neurodiagnostic Department tests each infant born and if needed a follow-up test is administered two weeks later at the Ear, Nose, and Throat clinic. The age range of those tested ranges from premature (30 weeks gestation) to 2 weeks old. On average, 5 families that Trinity Health serves per year are impacted with permanent hearing loss.
Trinity Health has partnered with Minot State University (MSU) and North Dakota’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EDHI) program to find and track these infants to ensure that the child receives proper hearing care and medical referrals. Trinity Health’s Audiology office coordinates testing, hearing aids and even cochlear implant screenings for infants in Ward county and we receive referrals from Williston, New Town and other outlying clinics.
While Trinity Health has a history of providing excellent service, with your partnership we can do even more to offer the best care possible to children who may have hearing loss and their families. Trinity Health Foundation would like to replace outdated equipment and purchase a new hearing screener that can perform all the hearing tests offered for newborns and infants at Trinity Health. We are hoping that through your generosity you will assist us with the $22,145 we need to obtain this equipment.
The hearing screener Trinity Health Foundation is seeking to acquire can perform the following tests:
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) this testing is concerned with the first part of hearing, how the cochlear reacts to sound energy. OAEs are done on nearly all infants because multiple studies have found most congenital damage is at the cochlear level. The cochlear then send the neural impulse to the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve goes through the brainstem into the brain and is eventually distributed to the hearing centers within the brain.
Transient Otoacoustic Emission (TEOAE) this tests one frequency at a time. It is an accurate but time-consuming test.
Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions (DPOAE) this tests several sound frequencies together to cover a bigger area of the cochlear. It is much faster than one frequency at a time and is the preferred method of testing the cochlear.
Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) is a simplified ABR test. An Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) measures the auditory nerve and the brain center for hearing. It takes several minutes per ear. It is used mainly on premature infants since the antibiotics used to treat them are very toxic to the auditory nerve. The infant’s prematurity may also contribute to damage to the auditory nerve or hearing centers of the brain.
Together we can make a difference for babies and infants facing hearing loss, and their families. By making a financial donation towards the purchase of this hearing screener you will also help children with their early learning and social development. One family shared why this is so important:
“My husband and I have four children. Three of our children have mild/moderate hearing loss. Each child’s road from birth to diagnosis of hearing loss to receiving of hearing aids has been unique. Our fourth child was diagnosed at birth with hearing loss. She received her hearing aids at about 1 month of age. It was so comforting to know where we stood with her from the beginning. We did not have to wonder as she approached milestones in speech and language whether she could hear us.”
Will you please consider a generous gift today to help children and their families?
Thank you for your gift to improve health and wellness through north central and northwest North Dakota.
Jeffrey Verhey, M.D.
Chairman, Trinity Health Foundation Board
p.s. Remember, you may make your gift to Trinity Health Foundation in honor of someone who is still living and has impacted your life or in memorial to remember someone special.