Hearing impairment in children
Hearing is critical for the development of language, communication, learning and social interaction. Even a mild hearing impairment can significantly disrupt normal development. Impaired hearing is therefore important to identify early, so that the underlying cause can be addressed and steps can be taken to restore or enhance hearing abilities.
What causes hearing impairment in children?
Between 1 and 5 in 1 000 babies are born with impaired hearing. This may be caused by prematurity, complications at birth, maternal drug use, infections or hereditary conditions. After birth, hearing loss may be the result of multiple ear infections, head injury, exposure to loud noise, or serious medical conditions like meningitis.
Signs of hearing impairment
The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment in children can be tricky to spot, so parents should pay particular attention to clues that their child may not be hearing well. Babies should startle or awaken in response to a loud sound, they should turn or smile when spoken to, and should babble from the age of a year, if not sooner. Toddlers should also respond appropriately to sound stimuli in the environment, and should have several words in their vocabulary.
Seeking medical advice
If you suspect that your child has hearing problems, do not delay in seeking medical advice. Your doctor will assess your child’s general health and refer your child to an audiologist for a hearing test. Treatment of hearing impairment depends on the underlying cause, but the sooner you intervene, the better.
The information in this article is intended for general purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.