Does my child need a hearing test?
It can be very tricky to tell if a baby is having trouble hearing. A baby’s hearing will be fully mature by the end of their first month of life. From birth your baby should pay close attention to voices, especially high pitched ones and should respond to familiar sounds such as a parent’s voice and should startle at loud or unexpected noise.
By three months of age your baby’s temporal lobe would have become more receptive and active, this means when your baby hears your voice he or she may look directly at you. By five months old your baby should realise where sounds come from and turn quickly toward new ones, they also should be able to recognise their own name.
There are two main types of hearing impairment – conductive and sensorineural. A conductive hearing impairment is when sounds from outside your child’s ear have trouble getting to or going through the different parts inside the ear. A conductive hearing impairment is usually temporary.
A sensorineural hearing impairment means the nerves that are in charge of receiving sound and sorting out what it means do not work correctly. A sensorineural hearing impairment can be mild, moderate, severe or profound and usually lasts for life and can worsen over time. Some children have only conductive hearing impairment whilst others have both conductive and sensorineural, this is called a mixed hearing loss.
Hearing loss is invisible, while your child may respond well to some sounds they have difficulty hearing soft sounds such as speech sounds ‘s’ and ‘f’. Without professional testing, your child’s hearing loss may go unnoticed.
Approximately 1 in 1000 babies are born with a form of hearing loss in both ears. It can be mild to profound, temporary or permanent. Getting your child’s hearing screened within the first 3 weeks of birth is essential to detecting hearing loss early.
The benefits of early intervention
When hearing loss is identified early, children have a greater chance of developing normal communication skills such as speech and/or Auslan. A Can:Do Hearing audiologist can provide you with valuable support and information.
Why does hearing loss occur?
A number of factors lead to hearing loss. In many cases no definitive cause is found. If your child does not pass the hearing screening at birth it may not mean hearing loss is the problem. Sometimes debris or fluid in the ear interferes with screening, in this situation; the test should be performed again.
What makes my child at risk?
Certain conditions make a child more susceptible to hearing loss:
- Deafness in the family
- Premature birth
- Illness at or around time of birth
- Meningitis or encephalitis (infection of the brain and/or its coverings)
- Viral infections during pregnancy
- Birth defects of the ear, nose, face or neck.
What if my child does not pass screening?
If your newborn does not pass the initial hearing screening it is important to follow up with a full diagnostic hearing test within 3 months. Intervention can then begin to reduce the effects of hearing loss.
Is hearing an ongoing concern?
Even if your child passes hearing screening we advise you continue watching for signs that hearing is normal.
The type of test depends on your child’s age. It may include listening games, speech testing and a middle ear health check. Testing is painless and at Can:Do Hearing we ensure this is a fun process for the child.