It might surprise you to know that hearing loss is the number one birth defect in American children, and with 1 in 1000 newborns suffering with some form of it, it’s easy to see how.
Through multiple studies, the results show that early diagnosis is crucial to the development of their speech, language, and cognitive abilities, and when a hearing problem is picked up within 1 month of birth, the chances of the treatment working are greatly increased.
Shockingly, however, 1 in 4 children born with a hearing defect don’t actually receive a diagnosis until they’re over the age of 3.
Why is it so important to be screened early?
As a child begins to learn how to communicate within the first 6 months of his/her life, the earlier “deafness” or any other form of hearing impairment is picked up, the better they can adapt to the strategies that allow them to develop their cognitive abilities, therefore not impacting too much on their speech.
When should I screen my child?
Ideally, you want to get your child’s hearing tested very soon after giving birth, especially while they’re still in the hospital. However, it’s not always that simple, so we recommend a grace period of up to 3 months.
During a test, if hearing loss is detected, the audiologist/otolaryngologist will advise the right course of treatment/hearing devices that should be introduced to the child by no later than 6 months of age.
What’s involved in a hearing screening for my child?
There are 2 tests used to screen infants and newborns for hearing loss. They are:
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE): A sponge earphone is placed into the ear canal to measure how effectively the ear responds to sound. Usually, a normal result would involve a measurable echo that could be heard through the earphone. The absence of this echo could indicate hearing loss.
- Auditory Brain Stem Response (ABR): Earphones are placed on the ears and electrodes are placed on the head and ears. Sound is emitted through the earphones while the electrodes measure how the child’s brain responds to the sound.
I suspect my child has hearing loss, what should I do?
Does your child display two or more of the following symptoms:
- No reaction to out of the blue loud noises
- No reaction such as head turning in the direction of your voice
- A seemingly lack of comprehension when being told directions
- Poor language development
- Speaking loudly or not using age-appropriate language skills
If so, there could be a chance your child has some form of hearing loss.
If that’s the case, we strongly advise you to not panic, as it’s very common and easily treated.
The best thing you can do is to book them in for a screening test as soon as you can. If you have a preferred audiologist, use them. If not, the team here at Allison’s Audiology are trained to give your child the most efficient and kind service.