Imagine the sinking feeling of hearing your newborn had failed the routine hearing screening. The doctor reassures you that further testing will probably show your baby is just fine. Then imagine that further testing shows moderate to severe hearing loss.
More than likely you’d feel that someone had knocked the wind out of you. You might rush to have your child fitted for hearing aids since your doctor will probably recommend it. Hearing aids certainly seem to make sense in a scenario such as this . . . that is, unless your child has a condition known as auditory neuropathy
.What is auditory neuropathy?
Auditory neuropathy is a condition where sound enters the inner ear as it should, but the transmission to the brain is impaired. If children with this condition are prescribed hearing aids, the ears can be permanently damaged because the sound will be too loud.
People with auditory neuropathy can hear but the sound is distorted. While some children simply grow out of the condition, for others profound hearing loss can be the result.
The sad truth is that too many doctors and audiologists are misdiagnosing auditory neuropathy and damaging their patients’ hearing with hearing aids. Approximate 12,000 babies born each year are diagnosed with hearing loss
and portions of these diagnoses are babies that have auditory neuropathy. Parents, especially first-time parents, do what the doctor advises and put hearing aids on their baby without question. They think the doctor always knows best, right? However, it is the most compliant parent that can inadvertently contribute to permanent hearing damage within a week’s time.
More seasoned parents may notice that the hearing aids bother their baby. They may think their baby can hear just fine since they have the ability to react to noise. When they voice their feelings they’re often met with the doctors telling them they are in denial or that the baby is simply reacting to vibrations.Trust your parental instinct.
While most children prescribed hearing aids actually do need them, there are steps to take if a parent suspects auditory neuropathy. First, learn all you can about the condition. Then talk to other parents who’ve been there so that you can learn from their experiences. Trust your gut and find a doctor familiar with auditory neuropathy. Then you’ll need to find a pediatric hearing specialist because testing for the condition can be tricky.Medical misdiagnoses
are always unfortunate and often tragic. Somehow when they happen to a child, they seem almost unforgivable. While there needs to be a certain level of trust between you and your baby’s doctor, parental instinct cannot be ignored. You can’t be too compliant when it comes to your newborn’s health and future.