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New hearing device for babies hailed

New hearing device for babies hailed


From AAP, June 10, 2011


A new device that shows whether deaf babies are benefiting from hearing aids and cochlea implants has been hailed as a step forward.


The device developed in Australia at a cost of $2.2 million during the past 11 years measures changes in brainwave patterns via electrodes placed on a baby's head.


Professor Harvey Dillon from National Acoustic Laboratories said until now there was no test that could tell how much hearing some babies had until the child was old enough to cooperate.


He said the new technology would let people see on a computer screen what sounds the brain was detecting.


"With HearLab we will be able to test these babies even when they are only a few weeks old," he said.


Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek said HearLab showed how Australian scientists were leading the world in research into deafness and hearing loss.


"This incredible device will help bring sound into the lives of children across the nation," Ms Plibersek said in a statement.


Australian scientists developed the world's first bionic ear, which was implanted into a patient in 1978.


Ten HearLabs are being rolled out at paediatric centres, with plans to install another six next year.


For more information about National Acoustic Laboratories please click here.