The very young, very small preemie is initially put on an open warmer with full exposure to the noises around him. Observing, one understands that even a 26 weeker quickly learns to tune out external noise, starting with the monitor alarms. They will react only to sudden, very loud, unexpected noises and these should be avoided at all costs. They also, with a strong connection, react to the voices of their parents which is the way they recognize them.
I have seen many hundreds of parents being told that their baby failed multiple hearing tests and it was completely wrong information… with disastrous results. Because she believed that he could not hear, the mother would stop talking to him and because she was not talking to him, she no longer looked at him.
Therefore, the baby was no longer seeing the mother’s face or hearing her voice. No more twinkling eyes looking at him, no more movement of mama’s head, no more little air kisses from her, no more little love words. He now only sees the bottom of her chin as she sits in silence. And he thought he had done something to cause this.
The young mother of fragile twins was crying and beside herself when I got to work one night. One of the twins had failed several OAE tests and finally the ABR. They told her he was deaf. I told her I’d watch him during the night and to go home and sleep. I called her at one in the morning and said not only was he not deaf, he knew his name. I’d fed him twice and did an experiment to test his hearing at least thirty times. Each time I’d wait till his eyes were turned away from me and I’d call his name. He’d look at me. Nine times out of ten. He is 13 today and certainly not the least bit deaf.
The medication Gentamycin has a strong hearing loss component as do some infections and very, very extreme jaundice, a rarity. So why tell hundreds of families that their baby is deaf when it’s not even 3 pounds or verbal yet? Ask the question: “Who benefits?” I believe it’s from lobbying for state laws mandating hearing tests of newborns by an industry that needs money. Certainly multiple hearing tests of these infants is not doing the baby any good or the family. It’s harming the family for useless information. Every mother will know if she has a deaf child by the time he’s 3 months old (corrected age). Then it’s time for hearing tests.