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Masks Making It Difficult For Some Parents To Learn Their Children Are Suffering From Hearing Loss

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Doctors are seeing an increase in patients due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It doesn't have anything to do with COVID-19, but rather an accessory used that's highlighting a problem some didn't even know they had, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Thursday.

"If I asked her something or she didn't understand me she would say, 'Mommy, move your mask. I didn't hear what you said,'" parent Lindsay Ganci said.

READ MORECoronavirus Obstacles: Public's Use Of Masks Providing Big Challenges For Hearing Impaired

Last year, Ganci was trying to navigate her daughter Ruby's newly diagnosed hearing loss.

"I would've never known that she was lip reading," Ganci said.

When pandemic mandates, like wearing a mask, made it crystal clear.

"Every single patient that comes into my office, the first thing they're telling me is they're having so much difficulty hearing," said Dr. Catherine Flynn of NYU Langone Health.


Flynn is Ruby's audiologist and said the 4-year-old is not alone.

"So we have special masks that we wear here, like this, so they're able to see my face and able to see my lips," Flynn said.

Now Ruby has hearing aids -- or "super ears," as she calls them -- that are fashionably accessorized with charms.

"I like the sparkles," Ruby said.

They have made a huge difference.

"Her hearing aids cost $5,000, $5,000," Ganci said.


It's a cost many insurance companies don't cover, forcing some patients to go without.

Lindsay and Ruby wanted to change that. So they held a bake sale, neighbors donated to a fund, and NYU, along with the hearing aid manufacturer, will provide a new device for a 6-year-old in Honduras named Nathan. Others will follow.

FLASHBACK: Experts: Earbuds Could Be Putting Kids At Increased Risk For Hearing Loss

The Gancis are turning Ruby's obstacle into a much bigger opportunity.

"When Ruby got her hearing aides she could fully participate in the world," Ganci said.

Signs that your child may have a hearing impairment include not responding when called, and turning up the volume on the TV or other devices.

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