A major objective of the Ear and Hearing Center at Cincinnati Children’s is to identify hearing loss in children as early as possible. Poor communication skills development and learning and lack of social maturation can result from hearing loss. Cincinnati Children’s is involved in statewide efforts (including Ohio Department of Health committees) to implement universal newborn hearing screening. If implemented, this universal screening would require the testing of every baby born in Ohio for congenital hearing loss. Legislation for such a process has already passed at a federal level.
With the anticipated increase in the number of children identified with hearing loss, the Ear and Hearing Center has optimized protocols for evaluations. In this case, hearing loss refers to sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) − or “nerve deafness” − in particular. Radical advancement in the assessment of children with sensorineural hearing loss has been developed through human molecular genetics research.
A standard step in our protocol now involves obtaining a routine blood sample for DNA analysis. Several common gene mutations have been identified as causing sensorineural hearing loss in children. These gene mutations account for approximately 40 percent of all congenital, hereditary and sporadic deafness. We are one of the relatively few centers in the United States routinely offering this genetic testing as a standard part of the hearing loss assessment process.
Additional diagnostic tests for children identified with hearing loss include comprehensive audiologic (hearing) testing, blood and urine lab testing, as well as diagnostic imaging studies (CT and MRI scans).
For children with sensorineural hearing loss, management involves an interdisciplinary team approach to fully address multiple aspects of a child’s life impacted by hearing loss. Children with residual hearing are managed with hearing aides or FM systems and can also receive auditory and speech-language rehabilitation therapies.
For children not benefiting from hearing aides or FM systems, we offer cochlear implants as an outstanding option for families choosing an auditory / verbal communication mode for their child. Cincinnati Children’s and the Ear and Hearing Center provide comprehensive care for children undergoing cochlear implantation. This care includes pre-operative evaluation, surgical care, post-implant therapy and rehabilitation