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News for  Families

Vol. 37, No. 4

One family’s journey to living a normal life with two deaf sons There’s something to be said for a mother’s intuition. It’s that feeling you can’t shake, deep down in the gut, where the hairs on the back of your neck stand up like tiny soldiers ready to fight. Isaac Kerg, age 4, was welcomed in to the world on November 7, 2008, to Ron and Julie Kerg. He was a valedictorian, passing all 35 of the state-mandated tests, including the newborn hearing test. “When Isaac was 6 months old I started to notice little things that made me question if he could hear,” explains Julie, Isaac’s mother.

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Approximately eight percent of children have profound hearing loss. Both Isaac and Cooper Kerg had cochelar implant surgery at Dayton Children’s to hear their world.

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Meet the Dr. Mom Squad!


We’re excited to share our newest team of bloggers – the Dr. Mom Squad! Their blog has three goals in mind: To connect with other moms, share their medical expertise and share what it’s like to be a doctor and a mom. The Dr. Mom Squad blog talks about everything from fever phobia to talking to your tween about “twerking.” They each come from varying specialties and have different ages of children at home, allowing them to share different experiences and provide great advice on a variety of topics. We hope the “Dr. Mom Squad” becomes your go-to source for information on your child’s health!


Stacy Meyer, MD

Shalini Forbis, MD

Melissa King, DO


Pediatric intensivist

Pediatric endocrinologist

General pediatrician

General pediatrician


Ages 13, 10 and 7 years old

Ages 3 and 1 years old

Preteen and 8 years old

Ages 4 and 2 years old

Scan this code to follow the Dr. Mom Squad blog or visit childrensdayton. org. Also, follow the Dr. Mom Squad on Twitter: @DrMomSquad.

Growing Together is published quarterly for parents and families in the Miami Valley area by Dayton Children’s. The purpose of Growing Together is to show how Dayton Children’s and families are working together to keep all children healthy and safe. Additional copies of Growing Together are available by writing to Dayton Children’s, c/o Marketing Communications, One Children’s Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815 or by calling 937-641-3666. Your suggestions and comments are also appreciated. For more information: Cert no. XXX-XXX-XXXX 937-641-3666

Patricia Abboud, MD

Ear infections can be a real pain in the ear continued from back page…

Common symptoms: ●●Fever ●●Ear pain or tugging on the ear XX%

●●Trouble hearing ●●Drainage from the ear

“It turns out that most ear infections get better all by themselves, without antibiotics,” shares Melissa King, DO, a pediatrician at Dayton Children’s

Health Clinic and a member of the Dayton Children’s Dr. Mom Squad. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that for generally healthy children over the age of 6 months and who don’t have a severe infection should wait 48 to 72 hours before starting antibiotics. By then, most children will be better and won’t need them.”

While ear infections are incredibly common in kids, there are simple steps to avoid infections. 3 tips to avoid an ear infection:

1. Avoid children and adults with

colds. 2. Have your child wash his hands

regularly. 3. Encourage your child not to

touch her nose and eyes.


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Pass or fail? Hearing tests at school Vaccinations, tests and check-ups,

disorders provide children the best opportunity to develop academically, emotionally and socially.” What if my child fails? Most children pass the hearing exam. However, if they don’t pass, several additional screenings will be given to your child and the school nurse will notify parents to follow up with their pediatrician.

3 healthbeat

oh my! It may seem like the to-do list for your child’s health is never ending. However, their school will eliminate one item from your to-do list by testing your child’s hearing. In fact, schools conduct a series of these hearing tests to continually

ensure every child’s hearing is at a healthy level.“Hearing is a vital component to normal speech and language development and a student’s ability to learn,” says Virginia Noe, RN, NCSN, M.Ed, Dayton Public Schools. “Early detection and treatment of hearing

W HEN DOES T EST I N G OCCU R ? All children in the state of Ohio are screened for hearing loss at birth. Since hearing loss can occur at any time, the state also requires hearing screening for school-aged children. Approximately eight percent of children have profound hearing loss. Pre-school

Screening is completed each year of enrollment.

Kindergarten and first grade Screening is completed by November 1. Third, fifth and ninth grade

Screening is completed during the academic year.

Do you hear what I hear? Protecting your child’s hearing A child losing their favorite Ninja Turtle or Barbie is devastating, but toys can be easily found. Hearing loss on the other hand isn’t something that can be “found” once lost. Hearing loss happens when

the tiny hair cells in the inner ear are damaged through seemingly normal activity or behavior, such as attending a rock concert. But a few simple precautions can prevent hearing loss.

5 tips to protect your child’s hearing: 1. Take it down a notch. Turn down the volume on

headphones and speakers. 2. Speak softly on the cell. Lower the sound and voice

settings on a cell phone. 3. Plug it up when rocking out. If your teen or tween

is heading to a rock concert, suggest wearing earplugs. (There are special earplugs made specifically for loud concerts.) 4. Hearing protection for tool time. Teens should

wear hearing protection if they have a class such as Tech Shop in school. 5. Follow the leader. Finally, set a good example and

follow the same tips!

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Hearing your

“He wouldn’t turn his head when I would clap my hands and he never even flinched when I vacuumed the house,” she says. “I kept telling my husband Ron something was wrong.”

world J

Today, the Kerg boys are like any other typical kids, playing at Shawnee Prairie in their hometown of Greenville, catching critters and running through the fields.

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ulie took Isaac to a local audiologist to have his hearing tested. He passed. “There was still something deep down that didn’t feel right,” Julie explains. Then she decided to get a referral to have Isaac’s hearing tested by an audiologist at Dayton Children’s. “Hearing-impaired children are very visual, so our role is to ensure a child is responding to testing sounds versus using their sense of sight during testing,” explains Linda McGinnis, audiology manager at Dayton Children’s. “Pediatric audiologists work in teams to ensure accuracy, and children have to go through a series of objective and behavioral tests to prove to us their hearing is normal.” The diagnosis? Isaac was severely deaf. “As a parent, you want your child to be perfect; we were devastated when we learned Isaac’s diagnosis,” Julie shares. “But from the moment we stepped into audiology, we knew we were in the best hands. We put together a plan with the audiologists for Isaac to have the most normal life possible.” Isaac was first fitted with hearing aids for six months and was recommended to receive cochlear implants, a surgically-implanted device that helps overcome problems in the inner ear. “Hearing aids magnify the hearing while cochlear implants completely bypass the damaged part of the inner ear or the cochlea,” explains William Turner, MD,

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5 DaytonChildren’s focus

director of the hearing loss and hearing loss,” Dr. Turner explains. stare at the little contraption the cochlear implant program at “The Kerg’s hearing loss is clearly boys wear into an opportunity to Dayton Children’s. “The cochlear genetic, but they fall into the 50 educate someone about their ‘ears.’” implant uses its own electrical percent of children where we can’t For the Kerg’s, their journey is signal to stimulate the auditory identify the gene.” far from over. Every event – going to nerve, allowing the person to hear. Julie and Ron were more the grocery store, getting dressed or Our goal is to implant children at prepared than most parents to have a going to preschool – has a new set of 12 months old since we get better deaf child. “We were devastated, but challenges. results if we implant early.” luckily we knew what to expect and “We don’t give them special Since Isaac wasn’t diagnosed what we needed to do,” Julie shares. treatment or privileges,” Julie says. at birth with hearing loss, he was “The grieving process wasn’t as long. “If they have their ears on, they can 2 years old before he received the We had to learn how to live a normal hear – and talk – like a normal child. cochlear implants. Two days before life with two children who are deaf.” I’m grateful in a sense that they’re Christmas 2011, Isaac was drifting Cooper first received his hearing both deaf versus having just one out of a cloud of anesthesia with two aids when he was 3 months old since typical child; it’s our cochlear implants nestled in his skull. the recommended age for cochlear family’s normal.” Audiologists turn on the implant implants is 12 months old. Two shortly after surgery, which is similar months after his first birthday, the to flipping a switch on the person’s Kerg family went back to Dr. Turner hearing. “The first time I realized for Cooper’s cochlear implants. Isaac could hear was a few weeks Cooper, like his brother Isaac, had after he received the implants,” Julie an extremely successful surgery. explains. “I yelled something from Just one of the boys the laundry room and he responded. Today, both boys are typical boys I knew the implants worked and when they’re wearing their “ears.” Isaac could hear. From that day on, The Kerg boys go to speech and he never stopped talking.” auditory therapy several times a According to Dr. Turner, most week. Like other little boys, they run children with cochlear implants through the woods, jump in puddles, have excellent results. “The average love looking for turtles and are glued word understanding with a cochlear to the TV when Gator Boys is on implant is 70 percent and sentence Animal Planet. They giggle and fight understanding is 90 percent.” and tease each other. But the Kerg’s Within a matter of a few rarely tell them to “shush.” They’re months, Isaac went from noises thankful for the little voices. and consonant sounds to his first Thankful for every words. The number of words grew moment daily; he learned concepts, identified “Ron and I think the objects, verbs and adjectives. As Isaac’s vocabulary grew, so did the Kerg cochlear implants are amazing, family. Isaac’s brother Cooper was we are born 31 months later. incredibly Accepting a second grateful devastating blow to Dr. At birth, Cooper failed the stateTurner and the mandated hearing test. audiology team at “About 50 percent of hearing Dayton Children’s who losses are caused by an abnormal have been caring for the boys for gene that we can identify, so it’s four years now,” Julie says. “We truly common to have a sibling with enjoy turning a stranger’s curious

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Turning on

the cochlear implant Some kids call them “bionic ears.” Some simply call the implant “my ears.” Regardless, cochlear implants are cool technology that allows kids (and adults) with profound to severe deafness to hear better. Once the cochlear implant is surgically implanted, a specialist must fine tune the sounds and speech processor for the patient.

H E R E’S H OW IT WO R K S : 6 2

The brain interprets sound and the person hears the word or sentence.


sound and speech processor

analyzes the sound and converts it into an electrical signal.





sends the signal to the implant where it’s decoded.

The nerve endings in

the inner ear are stimulated and the message is sent to the brain along the hearing nerve.

4 1 The

microphone picks up sound which is transmitted to a speech processor.

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The implant determines how much electrical current should pass to the electrodes and sends the signal, which determines loudness and pitch.

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The newest, non-surgical technique corrects a common deformity W

hen Liam Back was born just nine months ago, he was born with a very common deformity. His ears were “floppy.” Infant ear deformities occur at a rate of between 20 percent and 35 percent of all births, making it one of the most common abnormalities. Mellisa, Liam’s grandmother wasn’t surprised. Ear and hearing problems are common in their family. Mellisa was born with floppy ears, and Liam’s mother, Brooke, lost her hearing at age 2. Mellisa started taping Liam’s ears back with the hope that they would self-correct until she learned about a non-surgical approach, called the EarWell System™, performed by Salim Mancho, DO, plastic surgeon at Dayton Children’s. “Some people believe that floppy outer ears are a minor aesthetic irregularity that will self-correct as the child grows,” explains Dr. Mancho. “However, adopting a ‘wait-and-see

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approach’ with the hope that the ears might self-correct is risky because that’s not always the case.” The EarWell is a plastic device applied to the child’s ears within days after birth. It’s worn for four to six weeks and essentially reshapes ears that are “floppy.” “EarWells require no anesthesia, sedation or medication because they cause no pain,” Dr. Mancho explains. “The success rate is 90 percent, leaving the child with beautiful, normal-shaped ears.” According to Mellisa, Liam’s ears now have the same shape as other babies his age. His ears only look different because he wears hearing aids; Liam is moderately deaf, like his mother. “We didn’t want Liam to have to go through the pain of getting teased for having floppy ears when he’s older,” Mellisa shares. “We are thrilled with the results. Now we don’t have to concentrate on what his ears look like, but on helping him hear the world.”


Dr. Salim Mancho fits Liam with the EarWell System,™ designed to non-surgically reshape the ears in just a few weeks.

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Meet the Dr. Mom Squad

3 Pass or fail? Hearing tests at school

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News for Families

Ear infections can be a real pain in the ear Most kids have at least one ear infection before turning age 2, making ear infections a real pain in the ear. An ear infection, usually caused by bacteria or a virus, happens when the middle ear fills up with fluid. If your child has symptoms of an ear infection, they should be examined by a pediatrician.

…continued on page

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Dayton Children's Growing Together Fall 2013