It’s Never Too Soon

January 2, 2019

Toddler reaps developmental benefits from JFK Medical Center’s dedication to newborn hearing tests.

Today, Arav is your average toddler, talking, playing and curious about the world around him. But his future could have looked very different. His parents, Mahesh and Shantala of Edison, look back at his first few months of life and are grateful for the fast action taken by the Maternal Child Health Team at JFK Medical Center. “Arav did not pass the newborn hearing screening that was conducted right after he was born at JFK,” says his father, Mahesh. “He once again did not pass the screening with a follow-up test, and that worried us.”

QUICK EVALUATION

The multidisciplinary team at JFK, providing care in a collaborative manner, allowed for quick diagnosis and follow-up testing. The test confirmed that Arav was positive for mild to moderate hearing loss. Early hearing testing is vital. Hearing loss causes delays in the development of speech and language skills. The language deficit, in turn, causes learning problems that may result in reduced academic achievement. Communication difficulties also often lead to social isolation and potentially a poor self-image. In the end, delayed development may have a profound impact on academic performance and vocational choices.

“It is crucial for all providers of pediatric health care to recognize children who have underlying risk or suffer from congenital or acquired hearing loss and the consequences of delayed identification,” says Okechukwu Anene, M.D., chairman of Pediatrics at JFK.

“Children with profound hearing loss will not develop speech and language skills and are more likely to require special intervention and education,” says Virginia Toth, AuD, manager of Audiology at Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. “Our goal is to screen hearing by age 1 month, diagnose hearing loss by age 3 months and begin intervention by age 6 months. We use the newest technology for diagnosis and intervention.”

SETTING A TREATMENT PLAN

“After the comprehensive test, Sarah Kader, AuD, recommended hearing aids for Arav,” says Mahesh.

“We got him fitted as soon as possible, when he was about 3 months old. Dr. Kader also recommended an Early Intervention Program, which we got rolling soon after he got his hearing aids and still continue.” “Early intervention is a system of services that helps babies with disabilities learn the basic and brand-new skills that typically develop during the first three years of life,” explains Dr. Kader. “When hearing loss is present, these skills may not develop or might develop at a slower rate.” “Children who receive treatment such as hearing aids (for mild to severe hearing loss) or cochlear implants (for severe to profound hearing loss) are statistically better equipped to develop the language skills they need to succeed in school and the work environment,” notes Dr. Toth.

“Today, Arav is doing great and has been exceeding his developmental milestones,” says Mahesh. “His hearing loss has not worsened, and we take him for quarterly follow-up hearing testing. The staff and facilities have been great, and Dr. Kader has been a guiding force for us to help Arav meet his milestones.”

ONE-ON-ONE AUDIOLOGY CARE

Learn more about JFK’s audiology program at HackensackMeridianHealth.org/JFKaudiology.