Joey McIntyre's Son Among the 3 Million Children in US with Hearing Loss
Joey McIntyre, singer of New Kids on the Block, has a brand new baby boy who was born with severe hearing loss. About three million children in the US are diagnosed with the condition, about 33 each day.
Little Rhys Edward was born on December 13th 2009. The hospital where he was born offers newborns hearing tests, which he failed. Rhys followed up at UCLA and the tests indicate that the loss of hearing is permanent. As with most cases of newborn hearing loss, there is no known cause of Rhys’ condition. He was fitted with hearing aids in both ears when he was one month old and participates in weekly speech therapy sessions.
In the US, nearly 50% of newborns with hearing loss are not diagnosed until the second year of life. Studies have shown that when hearing loss is detected later in childhood, speech and language development is delayed and academic and social skills may be adversely affected. Research states the best results occur when treatment is identified and intervention has begun before a baby is six months old.
Infants at high risk for hearing loss are those with a family history of hereditary childhood sensorineural hearing loss, hyperbilirubinemia, ototoxic medications, bacterial meningitis, birth weight of less than 1500 grams (3.3 pounds), in-utero infections, craniofacial abnormailites, low apgar scores, mechanical ventilation of 5 days or longer, or other syndromes known to included hearing loss.
Most children with hearing loss can hear some speech and sounds at lower frequencies, but the sounds lack clarity. Young babies can be fitted with hearing aids to help make sounds louder and clearer. A pediatric audiologist will help choose hearing aids based on the degree and type of a child’s hearing loss, the durability of the aid, the service from the manufacturer, and the ability of the hearing aid to connect to other devices used in school.
Some children are candidates for cochlear implants, an electronic device that restores partial hearing to the deaf. It is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear. It works by stimulating the nerve of hearing in order for the individual to receive sound.
Joey and wife Barrett will not know for at least another nine months whether Rhys will need cochlear implants, they are optimistic. Joey says, “It’s going to be okay…It’s going to be amazing. Rhys’ hearing loss is part of who he is. His life is going to be as special as Griffin’s (Rhys’ big brother). There’s just work involved.”
If a baby is not screened for hearing abilities as a newborn, parents, grandparents and close caregivers are usually the first to notice difficulties. Use the following guide to determine if your child appears to be hearing appropriately. If you suspect a problem, contact your child’s pediatrician for a formal test.
NORMAL AUDITORY DEVELOPMENT
Your baby should be able to do the following:
Newborn (0 to 4 months)
A newborn (0 to 4 months) usually reacts suddenly to loud sounds through movements such as widening the eyes, jumping or extending the arms and legs. Parents should look for signs of localization from their child. Localization is eye movement or turning the head towards the direction of the sound source.
3 to 6 months
A baby of 3 to 6 months of age should turn and search out a different sound. They should also be able to respond to the sound of their name. During this particular developmental time, the baby will play with sounds by cooing and babbling. The baby should be smile or stop crying when either of the parents speaks to him/her. In addition, the baby should act differently to the ways the parents talk to him/her (angry, friendly, loving).
6 to 10 months
A baby of 6 to 10 months of age should be able to seek out the sound source. When his or her name is called, the baby should look towards the speaker. In addition, the baby should respond to both soft and loud sounds. Familiar sounds such as a doorbell ringing or a dog barking should get a response from the baby. The baby should also pay attention when the parents talk to him/her.
10 to 15 months
A baby or 10 to 15 months will begin to increase his or her babbling and begin to more closely resemble speech. The baby plays with sounds and is able to put sounds together in different patterns.
15 to 18 months
A child of 15 to 18 months is able to directly localize to most sounds. In addition, the child can understand simple phrases, identify familiar objects such as body parts and follow simple directions. A child at 18 months should have an expressive vocabulary of 20 or more words and short phrases.