Paediatric hearing aid fitting
A paediatric audiologist has a goal of identifying hearing loss as early as possible in children.
The Universal New-born Hearing Screening (UNHS) Programme aims to identify all children born with moderate to profound deafness. The programme supports appropriate assessment and help for children and their families. 3-5 babies in every 1,000 are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears.
The core goals are to identify infants with hearing loss by 3 months and initiate intervention by 6 months (Joint Committee on Infant Hearing [JCIH], 2007).
For many families, early intervention will include hearing aid fitting as part of the overall plan. Responsible infant hearing aid fitting needs to ensure that babies are neither over-amplified nor under-amplified, and that the hearing aids will provide comfortable yet beneficial levels of sound.
Special attention needs to be paid to three infant-specific areas:
- Use of electrophysiological test to estimate hearing rather than behavioural audiometry during the earliest parts of early intervention.
- Babies ear canals are small and growing, presenting ongoing challenges for fitting and re-fitting.
- The accuracy of infant hearing aid fitting can be enhanced by routine verification of every fitting.
Commonly selected hearing aids for babies will include programmability, nonlinear signal processing to allow audibility of soft sounds, and lockable features such as childproof battery doors and lockable volume controls.
Early diagnosis and early intervention are the keys to the best possible outcomes. This child was diagnosed with hearing loss in the NICU before discharge through our universal hearing screening programme at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. As the family was well aware and were counselled regarding the same, this child was fitted with hearing aids at 6 months of age. Through an early intervention programme and constant monitoring of behavioural responses, the child is doing well and has started his journey in the hearing world.