How Will I Know if My Child Has Trouble Hearing?

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Parents

My husband has had a hearing loss since he was a child. How will I know if our baby also has a hearing problem?
- Joyce

A family history of hearing loss does put a newborn at higher risk for having a hearing loss. But rest assured, your baby's hearing can be monitored closely so that if there is a problem, treatment can begin as soon as possible.

In most states, hospitals provide a newborn hearing screening before the baby is discharged. If a screening isn't done then, or the baby is born at home or a birthing center, it's important to get a newborn hearing screening within the first 3 weeks of life.

A baby who doesn't pass a hearing screening doesn't necessarily have a hearing loss. A retest to confirm the hearing loss should be done within the first 3 months of life, and if it does confirm a problem, doctors should start treatment by the time the child is 6 months old.

Even if your newborn passes the initial hearing screening, watch for signs that he or she is hearing well. Hearing milestones that should be reached in the first year of life include:

  • Most newborns startle or "jump" to sudden loud noises.
  • By 3 months, a baby usually recognizes a parent's voice.
  • By 6 months, an infant can usually turn his or her eyes or head toward a sound.
  • By 12 months, a child can usually imitate some sounds and produce a few words, such as "Mama" or "bye-bye."

A child may be at higher risk for hearing loss if he or she:

  • was born prematurely
  • stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
  • was given medications that can lead to hearing loss
  • had complications at birth
  • had frequent ear infections had infections such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus

Kids who seem to have normal hearing should continued to have their hearing evaluated on a regular basis at checkups throughout life. Hearing tests are usually done at ages 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18 years, and at other times if there's a concern.

If you have any concerns about your baby's hearing, talk with your doctor.

Reviewed by: Robert C. O'Reilly, MD
Date reviewed: March 2012



Related Resources

OrganizationAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association This group provides services for professionals in audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech and hearing science, and advocates for people with communication disabilities.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
Web SiteAmerican Academy of Audiology The American Academy of Audiology, the world's largest professional organization of, by and for more than 10,000 audiologists, is dedicated to providing quality hearing care to the public.


Related Articles

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD) Some kids have hearing loss due to auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD), a problem in the transmission of sound from the inner ear that makes sound disorganized when it reaches the brain.
Helping Sam Hear: A Family's Journey When 3-month-old Sam was diagnosed with profound hearing loss, his parents found comfort and hope when they learned that a cochlear implant could help Sam learn to hear. Follow the family's journey, from the diagnosis through surgery and beyond.
Hearing Evaluation in Children Hearing problems can be treated if they're caught early, so it's important to get your child's hearing screened early and evaluated regularly.
Cochlear Implants Sometimes called a "bionic ear," the cochlear implant can restore hearing for many kinds of hearing loss.
Ear Injuries Ear injuries not only can affect a child's hearing, but sense of balance, too. That's because our ears also help keep us steady on our feet.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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