Within the last decade the United States has witnessed a revolution in the identification of audio loss and rehabilitation services offered to children with permanent or partial impairment. These pediatric services are now an integral part of the comprehensive diagnostic procedures that are used at a quality-hearing center. The facts that have been discovered about this problem are that 3 in 1000 babies born in this country have impairments with sound recognition. These statistics make it one of the most common birth defects in America. This number translates into approximately 12,000 children affected each year by moderate to severe audio loss. It has also been noted that those children that are properly diagnosed and begin early rehabilitation and intervention services have significantly brighter outcomes than those children who wait. This early diagnosis is extremely important as audio loss in a child plays a significant role in not only their social development but also their educational development. Left undetected, impaired in a child can result in delayed speech and language skills, emotional or behavior problems, and delays in academic achievement.
Impairment is all too common in high-risk children. Some children are commonly identified as high-risk because they were either born prematurely, had a family history of audio loss, or were taking some form of high-risk medication in the hospital. However, it has been discovered that if only the high-risk children are screened as many as 50% of the infants with audio loss slip through undetected. This is why that it is important to have a child tested at a hearing center regularly. This is also one of the reasons why the United States established the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program. This program makes it mandatory to test all newborns birthed in hospitals for audio function. Up until 1990, children born with mild to severe sound impairment would have been left undiagnosed for up to three years on average. Since theception of EHDI this program has helped tens of thousands of children with early detection and rehabilitation that would have normally remained untreated.
The other reasons that early detection and treatment is vital for parents are the additional costs involved in delayed detection and rehab services. This added cost is also an important factor for the state to consider because of additional tax revenue that has to be sent to rehab the child. When detection of injury is delayed it is generally not identified until the child reaches school age. In the majority of these cases when an audio loss is finally discovered the child is generally placed into special education classes. These classes, on average, cost taxpayers an additional $ 420,000 and have a lifetime additional cost of approximately $ 1,000,000. The other factor is the additional costs to the parent as children with social and learning disabilities just cost more raise. These costs also carry over into the child's life as hearing impaired children have been shown to earn between 30% -50% less money over a lifetime than their unimpaired peers.
Because not all audio loss is diagnosed early and because of the risks involved in problems developing in the toddler's early years, it is always a good idea to have your children's audio function tested at regular intervals at a quality hearing center.