Yah baby! — When hearing is believing

Jade Reece Sadewasser, born Feb. 2 has her first hearing test Tuesday, Feb. 4. at Harrison Silverdale Birthing Center. - Photo by Tracey Cooper
Jade Reece Sadewasser, born Feb. 2 has her first hearing test Tuesday, Feb. 4. at Harrison Silverdale Birthing Center.
— image credit: Photo by Tracey Cooper

A hearing test given just hours after birth could help children avoid years of playing catch up.

With help from a local Lions Club, Harrison Hospital began offering in September 2002 a universal newborn hearing screening free of charge.

The painless test takes about five minutes. A probe is inserted into the baby’s ear and a series of clicking sounds are transmitted into the ear said Wendy Quisenberry, patient care supervisor for Harrison Silverdale.

A computer and software measure the baby’s response and issues a pass or refer rating. If the newborn does not pass, the test is given again before discharge. If the baby does not pass, the parents are referred to a pediatrician. Since September they have tested 672 babies.

The baby is typically tested 12 hours after birth when all gestation/birth debris has cleared the ear. The test is usually given after the baby has been changed or fed when the child is relaxed.

The Bremerton Central Lions Club donated the money to purchase the equipment and software. The Lions Foundation matched those funds. Harrison Hospital Foundation has also contributed to the program.

Quisenberry said parents have been ecstatic about the new test, which isn’t mandated by the state.

Significant hearing loss is one of the most common health problems at birth affecting three in every 1,000 newborns according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Left undetected hearing loss can impact basic language, social and thinking skills. If detected and treated however, these negative impacts can be lessened and even eliminated.

The goal is to get all babies with hearing loss the help they need within their first three months of life she said.

Babies who are identified and receive treatment by six months of age have the chance to develop speech and language skills close to their peers. Without screening the average age at which hearing loss is identified is between 2 and 3.

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