Tool to test infant’s ears approved

By Julian Scharman

Mimosa Acoustics has received permission from the Food and Drug Administration to begin production of its new device after waiting a month and a half. The device is capable of discovering problems in the middle ears’ of newborns.

It was not until the FDA approved Mimosa’s Power Ear Analyzer in February, that Mimosa could actually allow the device to go into full production.

Pat Jeng, founder and owner of Mimosa Acoustics, capitalized on the tympanometer, a previous technology used that is incapable of producing accurate results on newborns due to the size of the instrument relative to the newborn’s ear, he said.

Jont Allen, chief technology officer at Mimosa Acoustics and professor in electrical Engineering, said that fluid buildup behind the eardrum is not an abnormal occurrence among newborns.

Allen added that as much as 5 to 10 percent of newborns can experience hearing impairments early on.

“About 100 out of 1000 newborns can have some kind of middle ear problem,” Allen said.

Only three out of those 100 will actually develop a problem.

Mimosa Acoustics has already sold their product to clinics in New York City, Upstate New York, D.C., Washington, Canada and England, Jeng said.

Of the clinics worldwide currently using the Mimosa System, and doing clinical ear measurements on small children, Allen said they are finding that the device is very good at diagnosing different middle ear problems.

“There are five or six types of middle ear disease, and before you had to guess what it was based on some very crude measurements, but now with our device you can very precisely identify them,” Allen said.

Mimosa Acoustics, based out of Enterprise Works in the University Research Park, is being funded by two grants awarded to them from the National Institute of Health, totaling approximately $1 million.

Charissa Lansing, assistant professor in Speech and Hearing Science, said that Mimosa’s contributions are really exciting, especially in the area of new technology for infant hearing screening.

“It is imperative to identify infants with hearing loss and to provide appropriate amplification devices, for example, hearing aids and therapy by six months of age,” Lansing said.

Mimosa is offering up to a 30 percent discount off their device to researchers, normally priced at $10,000, to get them involved with this type of technology, Jeng said, who added the importance of educating people in the market.

“This isn’t a device like a thermometer, because people know how to take someone’s temperature,” said Jeng. “But because we are dealing with evaluating the ear, we are bringing people to more sophisticated technical terms, and we feel that people are more than ready for it.”