Detecting Hearing Loss in Children

Author:
Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Determining hearing loss in children facts

  • Children can be tested for hearing loss at any age.
  • There are several risk factors associated with hearing loss, including ear infections, prematurity, diseases, and syndromes.
  • Early identification of hearing loss will permit effective intervention, allowing for speech, language and cognitive development that are on target with a child's peers.
  • The ABR and the OAE evaluations are effective tests for infants and children who cannot cooperate for a traditional hearing evaluation.
  • Visual reinforcement audiometry and play audiometry are two behavioral methods used for testing cooperative children, which can obtain results similar to an adult evaluation.
  • A test of the middle-ear system should be included in a diagnostic hearing evaluation for all children.
  • When a hearing loss is detected, the child should be referred to an otolaryngologist or ENT to identify the cause of the loss. Further recommendations can be made by the ENT.

Myth

Accurate hearing testing cannot be done until a child reaches the age of 5 or 6.

Fact

Current technology now permits the accurate assessments of hearing in children starting within a few hours of birth. In fact, all states have mandates that testing of hearing be done in the newborn prior to discharge from the hospital.

Why test a child's hearing?

A child with undetected hearing loss may not be able to develop normal speech and language or acquire the cognitive abilities (knowing, thinking, and judging) needed for learning. Children whose hearing loss is not identified until, for example, 2 or 3 years of age may suffer from permanent impairment of speech, language, and learning.

The early identification of hearing loss permits the initiation of treatment and rehabilitation of the hearing-impaired child at a very young age. The child can then learn more normal speech skills when hearing loss is identified early and intervention begins.

Hearing loss can range from a mild impairment to profound loss. Many people think that hearing is only graded as normal or deaf. They may also think that the child is hearing normally if he or she is responding to sounds and voices. However, there are many subtle gradations between normal hearing and deafness and a child's hearing loss may not be apparent.

For example, it is common for a child with moderate hearing loss to develop speech and language and yet miss over half of what is being said. A child in this situation will have a distinct disadvantage in development and learning and will often reach a point where advancement stops unless the hearing loss is detected and treatment begins.

The stress on a child with hearing loss (and their family) can be enormous because the child does not understand why it is constant struggle to learn seemingly simple material (and the family is baffled as to why their bright child is not doing well).

The degree of hearing loss often determines the impact it will have on the child throughout life. However, with early identification and treatment, the impact can be lessened.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/14/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Hearing Loss in Children - Diagnosis Question: How did you first notice your child may have hearing problems?
Hearing Loss in Children - Diagnosis Question: How did you first notice your child may have hearing problems?
Hearing Loss - Treatment Question: Please explain how doctors treated your child's hearing loss.

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!