For Javen, it's ears on

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Nancy Chapman

JavenBaileyAt 3 months old, most babies are cooing and babbling, smiling back at people and holding up their heads. When Javen Bailey was 3 months old, he was adjusting to hearing aids.

During his newborn screening, Javen failed two hearing tests. Fortunately, his pediatrician was Dr. Juanita Coleman of CHKD’s Coastal Pediatrics practice in Elizabeth City, N.C. Dr. Coleman immediately referred Javen to her ENT colleagues at Children’s Hospital.

ENT specialist Cristina Baldassari diagnosed the baby with sensorineural hearing loss in both ears, a type of hearing impairment caused by a problem with the inner ear or hearing nerve. “Sometimes parents don’t follow up after the diagnosis,” Dr. Baldassari says, “but Javen’s family has been right on top of this.”

Javen’s parents are Latoyia and Jeromy Bailey, a special ed teacher with Chesapeake Public Schools and a banker who works for Wachovia, respectively. With no history of hearing loss in their families or in their sons, Jeromy Jr., 11, and Jayce, 2, the couple was taken aback by the diagnosis.

“At first I thought, ‘Why us?’” Latoyia recalls. “Then I stopped and thought, ‘Why not us? Why shouldn’t we get to raise this amazing little guy?’”

JavenBailey2Her concern for Javen’s future lessened when she talked with one of her middle-school students. In a curious coincidence, Latoyia had a hearing-impaired student in a class for the first time. “My student said it was no big deal, that I should just go get Javen hearing aids. If that’s how an eighth-grader felt about his own hearing loss, I knew Javen would be OK.”

By wearing the aids as an infant, Javen will have the opportunity to develop language skills just as any child would. That is, if the family can keep them in his ears. “He discovered them when he was 6 months old and teething,” Latoyia says, laughing. “So he’s been pulling them out and trying to put them in his mouth.” His brothers are quick to remind their parents to “put Javen’s ears on,” she adds. And Jeromy Jr. now wants to be an audiologist.

Living in Elizabeth City, Latoyia says the family is grateful that CHKD is close by, because they’re committed to getting Javen the care he needs. “We’ll be at CHKD every week if it will help him.”

Dr. Coleman practices with CHKD Medical Group’s Coastal Pediatrics. Dr. Baldassarri practices with EVMS’s ENT Group at CHKD.

This story was featured in the Fall 2011 issue of KidStuff, a publication of Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters. Click to read more patients' stories.

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