Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hearing test

When the munchkin was born, they did the typical newborn screening test. This is sort of an interesting concept to us – how do you get a newborn to “respond” to tell you what he/she can hear? Apparently it’s more a test of the “equipment” – they’re able to test if she has all the right parts developed and they’re passing signals, not if she can actually “hear” them. Anyway, she passed, but she’s considered higher risk because her grandmother (my mother in law) is deaf in one ear. The story of her grandmother’s deafness if pretty typical of the time – no one noticed she couldn’t hear and they just assumed she was slow. She taught herself to read lips (and still can – so watch out!) to get by. Eventually, by the time she was 8 or 10, they realized the issue and dealt with the problem (and moved her out of the slow classes). I say this is typical as one of my uncle’s brothers (he’s an uncle by marriage) had my Dad for 10th grade English – also in the slower classes. Dad was the first person to notice (based on specific mispronunciations) that he likely had a hearing problem. He was tested and it turned out – he wasn’t slow either.

Anyway, you hear those sorts of stories and you want to be sure that you don’t let the same thing happen to your kid! So when the doctor suggested that we should consider follow up hearing tests even though her hearing screened fine, we agreed. I still wasn’t sure how they would actually test a 6 month old, but figured maybe they could look for responses now. As it turns out… no, it’s still a mechanical test. But now it’s a mechanical test of someone who moves and squirms and can therefore pull out the tubes, so there are some added complexities. I discovered this when I called to make the appointment and got the laundry list of instructions – no formula for 6 hours before, no nursing for 3 hours, no juice or water for 2 hours, no napping for 4 hours, etc. It sounded like a hellacious day – for a baby who tends to “snack” and likes to eat fairly often on demand when I’m around. Worse – she’s just starting to grasp the concept of napping in her crib – I don’t want to lose this progress! But that was just the start – our real concern came on the next instruction – we needed a prescription from her doctor for a sedative. Now I’m not generally crunchy granola on the meds thing. I don’t believe in a holistic approach overall – if something hurts, I will do something to fix it. But a sedative? For a 6 month old? (now for those times she won’t sleep through the night, sure! Just kidding!)

We discussed it and decided that this wasn’t for us. I called the nurse advice line who said that since she had no symptoms or real issues (she’s responsive to aural stimuli), she really thought we could skip it, but we should talk to the doctor. The doctor said – well, the recommendation is to do it. So I won’t tell you not to – you need to understand the risk and factors if you don’t. She went on to say – but your husband’s an EMT, right? (Yes, EMT or really a paramedic, not an ENT (ear nose and throat doctor).) She understood our concerns on the sedation and told us – well, if she was REALLY fussy and you just had to feed her in the time before the exam, they wouldn’t be able to sedate her and would have to do it without sedation… Hmm… I was still concerned about hooking my little one up to all sorts of stuff for tests (tests my husband describes as “more useful for someone’s PhD study on infant hearing than for any real diagnostic value for my daughter” – but we’re not stubborn or opinionated…). So we’ve decided not to do it – at least for now. But I open it up – has anyone else done this test? What did you think? Does anyone know much about the diagnostic value?

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