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San Francisco Hearing and Speech Center Treats Newborns for Hearing Loss

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)Under California Legislation Assembly Bill 2780, as of December 31, 2002, all hospitals in California approved by Children's Services must provide hearing screenings to all newborns. The impact of this legislation is enormous since a significant hearing loss is the most prevalent birth condition. The California Newborn Hearing Screening Program will identify an estimated 1,200 newborns with hearing loss each year. Current costs for hospital-based screening of newborns range between $25 and $45 and are noninvasive.

Hearing loss oftentimes is not detected in a child until he or she goes to school. Most children rapidly develop language by the time they are three years old, but this is almost impossible for a child with a hearing loss. AB 2780 also identifies Type C Disorder Centers where parents can take their infant for treatment.

Language and education achievement are not related to the degree of hearing loss, but rather to the age of identification of hearing loss. According to a 10-year longitudinal study conducted by Dr. Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, Professor of Communication Disorders at the University of Colorado, Boulder, "The most effective window of opportunity for brain stimulation and formation of auditory pathways is between birth and six months."

Children whose hearing loss is identified at or before six months of age demonstrate larger expressive vocabularies, higher expressive language scores, and higher language comprehension scores than those whose hearing loss was identified after the age of six months.

At Type C Disorder Centers such as the San Francisco Hearing and Speech Center, infants with hearing loss can be fitted with amplification as young as four weeks of age. With professional early intervention, the language, cognitive, and social development of these infants is nearly commensurate with their hearing peers, explained Rayford C. Reddell, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Center.


San Francisco Hearing and Speech Center

Bob Madory, 415/921-7658


SOURCE: San Francisco Hearing and Speech Center

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