For Children

WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK MY CHILD HAS A HEARING LOSS?

If you suspect your child has a hearing loss or if your child has failed a hearing screen, your family physician or pediatrician is the best starting point.  Many medical conditions, especially ear infections or ear wax can create temporary hearing loss. After careful physical examination, a hearing evaluation may be recommended. Your physician should refer you to an audiologist.

With prompt intervention, even children with severe to profound hearing loss can develop age appropriate speech and language. They can also attend mainstream school and succeed in all aspects of life.

SIGNS YOUR CHILD MAY HAVE A HEARING PROBLEM 

It is important to recognize that hearing loss may exist even if these signs are not present.  It may be more difficult to detect a mild hearing loss or hearing loss in only one ear. Please contact your physician or an audiologist if you suspect your child may have a hearing loss.  Possible signs include:

  • Caregiver concern.
     
  • Delays in speech and language.
     
  • Behavioral problems and/or lack of attention.
     
  • Not responding to a speaker who is out of view but within typical hearing range.
     
  • Child intently watches the face of a speaker.
     
  • Difficulty understanding in background noise.
     
  • Poor localization of sound.
     
  • Not startled by loud sounds.
     
  • Turning up the TV and radio.

RISK FACTORS FOR HEARING LOSS

The presence of the risk factors listed below does not confirm that your child has a hearing loss, only that the likelihood of hearing loss increases. Conversely, if your child has no apparent risk factors they may still have hearing loss.

  • Family history of hearing loss.
     
  • Low birth weight.
     
  • Hyperbiliruben (jaundice) requiring an exchange.
     
  • Low APGAR score.
     
  • Mechanical ventilation greater than 5 days.
     
  • llness requiring admission to NICU of 48 hours or more.
     
  • Prenatal infections of the mother including: cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes, rubella, and syphilis.
     
  • Craniofacial anomalies, especially of the pinna and ear canal.
     
  • Neurodegenerative disorders.
     
  • Recurrent or persistent otitis media.
     
  • Exposure to ototoxic drugs.

 HEARING LOSS IN CHILDREN - FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Over 1 million children in the U.S. have a hearing loss.
     
  • 5% of children 18 years and under have hearing loss.
     
  • 1 in 22 infants born in the U.S. have some kind of hearing problem.
     
  • 6 in every 1000 infants born on the U.S. have some degree of hearing loss.
     
  • 1 in every 1000 infants born in the U.S. have a severe or profound hearing loss.
     
  • 83 out of every 1000 children in the U.S. have an educationally significant hearing loss.
     
  • Approximately 30% of children who are hard of hearing have a disability in addition to hearing loss.

Hearing loss is the most common birth defect found in newborns in the United States.  Speech and language begin to develop immediately after birth, even though expressive speech usually doesn't begin until age 1. If undetected, any degree of hearing loss can be handicapping for a child. It is estimated the 37% of children with only a mild hearing loss fail at least one grade.

UNIVERSAL NEWBORN HEARING SCREENING

Universal newborn hearing screening has become a standard of care for newborns in Minnesota. Research has shown that it is of vital importance to begin early intervention for deaf and hard of hearing babies and their families prior to 6 months of age. When early intervention occurs, these children have the opportunity to achieve age appropriate language and cognitive skills at the same time as their normal hearing peers. The state of Minnesota's 1-3-6 goal has been put into place to assure that all deaf and hard of hearing babies are:

Screened for hearing loss by 1 month of age

Evaluated by an Audiologist by 3 months of age

Wearing hearing aids and in an early intervention program by 6 months of age

MILESTONES OF COMMUNICATION

Infant - 3 months:  startles to loud sounds, makes eye contact, coos.

6 months:  turns head in the direction of sounds.

9 - 12 months:  demonstrates understanding of simple words like "momma",begins to babble with a string of syllables like "da-da-da".

12 months: one or more spoken words, uses a variety of babbling sounds.

18 months:  uses single words, understands simple phrases, responds to commands.

2 years: uses 2-4 word phrases, most non-familiar adults can understand your child.

3 - 5 years: comprehension of nearly all things spoken, use of meaningful and complex sentences by the end of this stage.

Infants and children develop uniquely and at individual rates. These milestones are meant to serve only as a guideline to help benchmark your child's development.