In the US, six in every 1,000 newborn babies have a hearing loss. Auditory challenges are the common birth disability in North America.
From birth, babies begin to develop speech and language. They listening and interacting with what they hear: sounds and voices. If a baby has a congenital hearing loss, he may not be able to hear sounds and voices. This seriously affects speech and language development.
Without hearing assessment of infants a child may be two before parents or his pediatrician picks up on some hearing losses.
An estimated 12,000 babies are born in USA with some hearing loss. Fortunately, most states now offer painless, quick hearing screenings in hospitals and community health facilities. This quick screening will indicate if more testing is required.
Early detection of hearing losses allows families to decide what extra assistance their child may require in such areas as: speech, language, cognitive (thinking), and social development.
It is the goal of the healthcare system to have every newborn’s hearing assessed before he is a month old—preferably before he leaves the hospital. Home births and midwife assisted births complicates this goal.
When a baby does not pass the hearing screening test, it is vital to make an appointment for a complete auditory assessment and any additional medical tests by three months. An audiologist or an ear, nose, and throat specialist can discover the cause of the hearing loss.
For babies who pass the newborn hearing screening, it is important to continue to monitor hearing as babies can develop a hearing loss postnatal.
Parents should be alert to the following signs that their three-month-old has possible hearing problems:
- Baby doesn’t startle in response to a sudden or loud sound.
- Baby fails to respond to music, voices, or other sounds.
- Soft sounds like mother’s voice or a lullaby don’t calm baby.
- Baby does not waken if voices or other loud sounds disturb the quiet around him.
- By two months baby is not gurgling and making “oh” noises.
- Baby doesn’t show recognition of familiar voices and sounds.
- Baby doesn’t reach for musical toys and mobiles.
If you have concerns about your baby’s hearing you should:
- Document things that seem like warning signs. Date your observations.
- Discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician.
- Request an auditory assessment for your child.
Visit a hearing center or click on: http://webportal.audiology.org/Custom/FindAnAudiologist.aspx to find an audiologist and to get more information.