Pediatric Audiology Services
The UNC Hospitals Pediatric Audiology Team, under the direction of Patricia A. Roush, AuD, serves infants and young children with suspected or confirmed hearing loss. Pediatric Audiology provides diagnostic and rehabilitation services to infants and children with a wide range of hearing disorders. Pediatric Audiology works closely with the Infant Hearing Screening Program at UNC Medical Center to identify and diagnose hearing loss within the first weeks of life.
At UNC, all infants in the well-baby nursery receive a hearing screening prior to hospital discharge. Audiologists screen all infants admitted to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Infants who fail newborn hearing screening are followed up in the outpatient clinic for in-depth diagnostic testing, medical evaluation and treatment by pediatric audiologists and UNC School of Medicine ENT physicians. UNC Medical Center pediatric audiologists see infants and young children referred from across the entire state.
The identification/diagnostic process is closely linked with a comprehensive program of early intervention, ensuring the availability of important auditory information during the early, critical intervals of hearing development. Since the North Carolina legislature mandated newborn hearing screening in 1999, the UNC program has seen an ever-increasing number of babies referred from newborn hearing screening programs throughout the state.
Many of the children who were identified with hearing loss as infants during the early years of the statewide screening program are now well into their teens and have speech and language skills on par with their hearing peers, due in large part to the benefits of early hearing loss identification and intervention.
It is now common for infants to be fitted with hearing aids at less than four months of age as compared to past years when children were often two to three years of age before their hearing loss was identified. The ability to actually measure the level of sound provided by a hearing aid while in the user’s ear enables the pediatric audiologist to confidently fit an infant or young child who cannot provide feedback.
A Team Effort
Working as a team, Pediatric Audiology , the pediatric cochlear implant programs (CASTLE and CCCDP), and the UNC School of Medicine ENT surgeons together closely monitor those children whose hearing loss is so great that traditional hearing aids may not provide enough benefit, to ensure early determination of CI candidacy.
In addition to following children with typical "sensory" hearing loss, the pediatric audiology team, also in conjunction with the UNC pediatric cochlear implant team is following over 200 children who have been diagnosed with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD). While ANSD is not a new disorder, newer test techniques in recent years have enabled earlier and more accurate diagnosis. ANSD presents new challenges in management for pediatric audiologists. The UNC pediatric team together with UNC otolaryngologists, have developed an evidence-based protocol for evaluation and management so that all infants diagnosed with this disorder will have the earliest and most effective treatment possible.
Visit the UNC School of Medicine site to learn more about Pediatric Audiology services.