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Newborn Hearing Screening

Windom Area Hospital is pleased to announce newborn hearing screening is now being performed on all babies born at Windom Area Hospital. Newborns will undergo a screening process, which is part of the “standard of care” received (like a PKU test for newborns). This test is performed while infants are sleeping to get the most accurate results.

To test the baby’s hearing earphones are placed over the baby’s ears and an adhesive-back sensor is attached to the forehead. The screener sends a series of soft clicking sounds to the baby’s ears through the earphones. Sensors pick up the response from the baby’s brain and send it to the ALGO (Auditory Brainstem Response technology) screener, where it is analyzed automatically for immediate results.

Babies will receive a grade of “pass” or “rescreen”. Babies that pass the test should not have hearing problems. It is still important to watch for hearing or speech and language problems. If a child has any risk factors, which include, but are not limited to:
•Family history of childhood hearing loss,
•The infant has a syndrome,
•The infant becomes sick with bacterial meningitis
•The infant receives a head injury with a loss of consciousness or skull fracture
•The infant has ongoing ear infections for at least 3 months
•The infants’ parent/caregiver is concerned about hearing, speech or overall development

Babies that need to be “rescreened” will be referred to an audiologist before the baby is 3 months of age. This does not necessarily mean that the baby has a hearing problem, but the baby does need to have their hearing evaluated to determine hearing ability. Often times babies with normal hearing need to be rescreened when the ear canal is blocked with birth residue (vernix), fluid in the middle ear or simply because the baby was too fussy during the test to achieve satisfactory results.

Babies that were born at Windom Area Hospital prior to implementing the newborn hearing screening or in hospitals without this technology should seek medical advice from their family physician. Screening can be done on an outpatient basis with a physician’s referral. Accurate tests can only be performed on babies under 6 months of age.

Caregivers should watch for the following hearing and speech development milestones as their children grow and develop. If you suspect there is a problem, contact your pediatrician or family physician immediately.

Birth to 3 months
•Recognizes and quiets to parent’s voice
•Startles to loud sounds

3 to 6 months
•Awakens to sounds or speech
•Turns towards interesting sounds

6 to 12 months
•Understands first words such as “da-da” or “ma-ma”
•Responds to names of favorite toys by pointing to them when asked
•Responds to sounds coming from far away

12 to 18 months
•Says first words such as “da-da” or “ma-ma”
•Responds to names of favorite toys by pointing to them when asked
•Responds to sounds coming from far away

18 to 24 months
•Has a vocabulary of approximately 20 words
•Speaks two word phrases
•Understands simple “yes” and “no” questions
•Refers to self by name
•Follows simple directions

24 months to 3 years
•Has a vocabulary of approximately 270 words by 24 months, 1000 words by 3 years
•Wants to speak, to communicate needs, wants and experiences
•Speaks simple sentences
•Recognizes different sounds
•Understands most of what is said to him or her

Because hearing impairment has no visual indicators, early detection is very important. In the United States 24,000 children are born every year with a hearing impairment. Although hearing impairment is far more common than many conditions typically screened in newborns, such as PKU, Hypothyroid, Homoglobinopathy and Cystic Fibrosis, less than 15 percent of newborns in the U.S. are screened for hearing impairment at birth. This standard testing is critical in detecting hearing impairment. Windom Area Hospital is fortunate to be able to offer this technology to patients. A number of generous contributors enabled Windom Area Hospital to receive this technology, including the Minnesota Lion's Club, which matched donations from the following: Eagles Jimmy Durante Grant, Windom Area Shriner Club, Windom Area CB Club, Windom Eagles Auxiliary, Windom Lion's Club, Masonic Lodge- Prudence #97, Windom Workers 4-H Club, and tips earned at the Ducks Unlimited Banquet.

For additional information about newborn hearing screening, contact Windom Area Hospital (507) 831-2400.


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