Hearing is a critical factor in speech and language development for children. In the early 2000’s a nationwide program to screen the hearing of newborns was introduced and has been wildly successful in identifying hearing loss before the age of 3 months. Despite this successful program, hearing loss can develop after birth, so it is important for parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss and know when to get their child to a doctor. Early intervention is the key to mitigate any long term effects of hearing loss.
If your child shows any of the following signs of hearing loss, do not delay in getting to a doctor for evaluation:
• Does not startle or awaken to loud sounds
• Does not respond to familiar voices by calming down, smiling or cooing
• Does not turn head or eyes towards sounds by the age of six months
• Does not begin to babble or say simple words, such as “mama” or “dada,” by the age of one
• Only responds to visual stimulation such as turning towards someone entering a room, but not to auditory stimulation such as someone calling the child’s name
• Responds to some sounds (ex: a door slamming), but not to others (ex: speech, noisemaking toys)
• Does not try and mimic sounds that you make
• Ear infections, tugging on ears or complaints of ear pain
• Speech delay or unclear speech
• Difficulty following directions
• Asks for repetition often (i.e. “huh?”, “what?”)
• Often increases volume of music, TV, iPad or other devices
It is important to remember that all children develop at a different rate and not all types of hearing loss are permanent. If you have any concerns, even if your child passed the newborn hearing screening, you should have your child’s hearing evaluated by a doctor immediately.
List adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/)
Kit S. Frank, Au.D., is an Audiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. She tests and treats children with hearing loss at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.