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.