Hearing loss is the most common birth defect. Two to three out of one thousand babies are born with a hearing impairment. Early identification plays a crucial role in a child’s social and emotional development, and is key to their speech and language skills.
Diagnosing Hearing Loss
Most hospitals screen a newborn’s hearing shortly after birth. Up to 10 percent of infants do not pass the initial hearing test, but this is often the result of movement and crying during the exam, or a buildup of fluid or vernix (the waxy, white protective coating that babies are born with) in the ears. Follow-up testing can confirm whether your baby truly has a hearing loss.
While most babies are born with normal hearing, there are some who do have a hearing loss at birth, or develop one early in childhood. Risk factors include:
- Premature birth or other complications.
- Family history of hearing loss.
- Frequent or chronic ear infections.
- Infections such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus.
- Exposure to very loud noises.
Early identification of hearing loss in children is important because children rely on their hearing to develop speech and language skills. Untreated hearing loss can lead to delays in language development and social coping skills. Early detection can prevent many of these concerns, and put your child on the proper track for learning.
Symptoms & Treatment
Pediatric hearing loss sometimes develops shortly after birth. Even if your child passes the initial hearing screening, the following signs and symptoms may indicate a hearing impairment:
- Failure to startle when exposed to a sudden, loud noise.
- No recognition or response to your voice.
- Limited, poor, or nonexistent speech.
- Difficulty learning.
Treatment depends upon the type and extent of hearing loss. Hearing aids, assistive listening devices, or cochlear implants are all commonly used to treat hearing loss. Your child’s audiologist is best qualified to make a recommendation based on his or her unique situation.
Call Southwest Idaho ENT at (208) 367-3320 for more information or to schedule an appointment.