Hearing intervention critical at age 6 months

Written by Richard A. Larida, UP Manila IPPAO

Dr. Charlotte Chiong, Assistant Director of the Philippine National Ear Institute, stated that hearing intervention is critical before the age of six months, during a research forum organized by the Metro Manila Health Research and Development Consortium at De La Salle University on 18 November 2011. The theme was Understanding the Silent World of the Hearing Impaired.Dr. Chiong detailed that in most studies, particularly the study by Yoshinaga-Itano in Rhode Island, Colorado, USA where newborn screening started, researchers were able to follow deaf kids longitudinally and observed great difference in the language milestones in children where the intervention was given before the age of six months versus those given the intervention after six months.

"Kaya po sa Newborn Screening Law, the thrust is to Understand 1, 3 and 6, meaning to say, to be able to screen the child below the age of one month, and to be able to repeat the screening test if the initial one failed before the age of three months so we are able to diagnose if there is a hearing loss or not. With a hearing loss, we should be able to put the amplification tool or hearing aid before the age of six months. This way, we can optimize the possibility of the child developing some language despite the presence of a hearing loss, " Dr. Chiong explained in response to a query on the possibility of speech for a child with partial hearing impairment.

According to Dr. Chiong, there are two types of deafness: pre-lingual (there is no memory of language) and post-lingual.

"For the pre-lingually deaf, if you are able to intervene before the maturation of the speech center at age seven or eight, the child should be able to learn how to speak as long as the amplification tool or hearing aid is able to raise the threshold of the speech banana (the target hearing area for children with hearing loss)... If the onset of deafness is post-lingual (patient has already a memory of language), there is no impediment for the patient to speak. As long as he/she can hear, he/she can respond appropriately, " she added.

Before the open forum, Dr. Kathleen Felizar-Lopez, chief resident at the PGH Department of Otorhinolaryngology, presented her study titled "Accuracy of Siemens HearCheck Navigator as a Screening Tool for Hearing Loss."

She found that the Siemens HearCheck Navigator showed potential as an accurate, portable, easy-to-use tool to screen hearing loss without the need for special equipment and training.

She reported that the accuracy of the Siemens HearCheck Navigator inside the soundproof audiometry booth and in a quiet room were 82.5% and 84%, respectively, for all levels of hearing loss. Moreover, the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of the Siemens HearCheck Navigator in both environments had no significant statistical difference.

Her analytical and cross-sectional study tested 100 patients (200 ears) with a median age of 43 years and an almost equal number of males and females at the Ear Unit of a tertiary public university hospital from June 2009 to August 2010.

Meanwhile, Maria Veronica Templo-Perez, Dean of the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS) at De La Salle University, shared SDEAS's perspectives on deafness and its holistic approach in developing the skills and character of their deaf young adult students.