Could a Hearing Screening Really Save Lives?

Posted by Living Sounds

Recently an interesting article crossed my path. The article in question was about children, ear health and hearing, and links to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Since many of my friends and family are parents to young children, or are becoming new parents any day now, this article was in such high circulation on social media it was hard to miss.

As it turns out, a Seattle-based Anesthesiologist, Dr. Reubens from Seattle Children’s Hospital recently uncovered an interesting link; evidence suggested that in young infants, there was a statistically significant correlation between having damage to the cochlea or the inner ear and suffering death from SIDS. The original research looked at hearing screening results that were obtained during 13 years of previous audiology-based research and records conducted on infants. Of the subjects, 31 infants had died from SIDS and each of these infants’ hearing records indicated they had hearing loss. It appears as though there is a strong link between inner ear damage and risk factors for SIDS.

Dr. Reubens is still working on the hypothesis that could help us better understand the mechanism underlying this effect. His theory suggests the inner ear holds specialized nerve tissues that are somehow responsible for detecting high CO2 volumes in the brain to help regulate breathing and Oxygen intake levels. If this is true, this CO2 monitoring fails when the inner ear is damaged, essentially preventing infants from regulating their own breathing while asleep. Of course, much research is needed before researchers and scientists will know exactly why the link between hearing loss and SIDS is so prominent in these cases.

Until then, these preliminary findings give us yet another reason to continue to practice and advocate for Universal Early Infant Hearing Screening programs across Canada and the United States.

To read the original article posted through the Seattle Children’s Hospital website, click here.

Tania Gora MSc, R.Aud, Aud(C)
Registered Audiologist

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