I’m not sure if my baby’s hearing is normal. What should I do?
Approximately two to four of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard-of-hearing, making hearing loss the most common birth disorder. Undetected and untreated hearing loss in young children can result in delayed speech and language development, social problems and later academic difficulties. It is routine practice in most hospitals to perform hearing tests for babies shortly after delivery. South Carolina and Georgia are 2 states that currently require hearing screenings for newborns. Early diagnosis, early fitting of hearing aids, and an early start on special education programs can help maximize a child’s hearing.
Hearing loss can also occur later in childhood. In these cases, parents, grandparents, and other caregivers are often the first to notice that something may be wrong with a young child’s hearing. Even if your child’s hearing was tested as a newborn, you should continue to watch for signs of hearing loss, including:
• Not reacting in any way to unexpected loud noises
• Not being awakened by loud noises
• Not turning his/her head in the direction of your voice
• Not being able to follow or understand directions
• Poor language development
• Speaking loudly or not using age-appropriate language skills.
If your child exhibits any of these signs or if you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, discuss them with your child’s doctor and arrange for a hearing screening or evaluation. For more information, visit www.nidcd.nih.gov or www.asha.org.