Hearing loss in children
Approximately 3 in 1,000 babies are born with permanent hearing loss, making hearing loss one of the most common birth defects.
Children with hearing loss who begin early intervention earlier have significantly better developmental outcomes than similar children who begin intervention later.
Most children with hearing loss who receive appropriate services from trained staff are able to progress at age-appropriate rates. 92% of children with permanent hearing loss are born to hearing parents (Mitchell & Karchmer, 2004). The remaining 8% of children with permanent hearing loss have one or both parents with a hearing loss, and who may also identify themselves as culturally Deaf.
Parents usually suspect a hearing loss before the doctor does.
With appropriate early intervention, children with hearing loss can be mainstreamed in regular elementary and secondary education classrooms. Recent research has concluded that children born with a hearing loss who are identified and given appropriate intervention before 6 months of age demonstrated significantly better speech and reading comprehension than children identified after 6 months of age.
Why every moment matters
Early intervention is the most important thing you can do for your child. Hearing is crucial to the development of your child’s vital speech and language skills. Even minimal hearing loss can lead to learning and behavioural problems that can limit your child –both throughout school and beyond. The sooner your child can hear and use spoken language, the more likely they can overcome the disadvantages of hearing loss to realise their full academic and social potential. Research shows that children who are fit with appropriate amplification before six months old can develop language skills on a par with their hearing peers. Older children don’t have the same opportunity to catch up.
When Should Hearing Be Evaluated?
Most children who are born with a hearing loss can be diagnosed through a hearing screening. But in some cases, the hearing loss is caused by things like infections, trauma, and damaging noise levels, and the problem doesn't emerge until later in childhood. So it's important to have children's hearing evaluated regularly as they grow. If your baby does not pass the hearing screening, it doesn't necessarily mean there's a hearing loss. Because debris or fluid in the ear can interfere with the test, it's often redone to confirm a diagnosis.
If your newborn doesn't pass the initial hearing screening, it's important to get re-tested within 3 months so treatment can begin right away. Treatment for hearing loss can be the most effective if it's started by the time a child is 6 months old. Children who seem to have normal hearing should continue to have their hearing evaluated at regular doctors' appointments. Hearing tests are usually done at ages 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18, and any other time if there's a concern.But if your child seems to have trouble hearing, if speech development seems abnormal, or if your child's speech is difficult to understand, talk with your doctor.
The information on this website is for educational purposes, and is not intended to replace medical advice. Please consult a hearing healthcare professional to diagnose or treat a hearing or health problem.