How Will I Know if My Child Has Trouble Hearing?
My husband has had a hearing loss since he was a child. How will I know if our baby also has a hearing problem?
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 do a newborn hearing screening before the baby goes home. If it's not done then, or the baby was 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. If it confirms 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, babies can usually turn their eyes or head toward a sound.
- By 12 months, babies 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 medicines that can lead to hearing loss
- had complications at birth
- has frequent ear infections
- had infections that can damage hearing, such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus
Kids should have their hearing evaluated at regular checkups. Hearing tests usually are 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.