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Parents reminded to be alert for hearing problems

Parents reminded to be alert for hearing problems


Parents of infant children are being reminded during Hearing Week of the need to be alert for symptoms of hearing problems.

New Zealand operates a Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme which the General Manager of the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme, Neil Heslop, says will identify most cases of permanent hearing loss in children.

In some cases, however, permanent hearing loss can be late-onset and not become apparent until a later age.

Heslop says children learn spoken language by listening to the language around them and delayed speech and language development can occur if hearing loss is undetected and untreated.

"Some of the symptoms parents should watch out for include young babies not being startled by sudden loud sounds or not responding to their parent's voice. Others include toddlers under 15 months not responding when their name is called or not using a variety of sounds when babbling to themselves.

"Parents who are concerned about their child's hearing, at any age, should talk to their GP and be referred to an audiologist for a hearing assessment," Heslop says.

The Christchurch-based Southern Cochlear Implant Programme serves profoundly deaf children and adults in the Lower North Island and the South Island.

Cochlear implants are similar in size to high-powered hearing aids and help severe to profoundly deaf people who gain little or no benefit from hearing aids.

The implants transform speech and other sounds into electrical energy that stimulates auditory nerve fibres in the inner ear.

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