8 Signs Your Child Might Have Hearing Loss, Experts Say

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For most babies and young children, the sound of their parents’ voices is a major source of calm and comfort. However, hearing-impaired children experience the world differently, which can impact their development. Fortunately for parents, there are signs that your child may have a hearing loss you can research, so you can give them the help they need to treat their hearing loss or help them navigate the world with different abilities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hearing loss can happen at any time in your life. However, because your child’s brain, speech, and social development can be affected by their ability to hear, it’s important to identify hearing problems as early as possible. According to Babysfirsttest.org, as many as three in every 1,000 babies born in the United States have some degree of hearing lossthat’s why they recommend that all babies get a hearing screening within 24 hours of birth.

Even if a baby passes their newborn screening, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), they may still have or develop hearing loss later, due to infection or injury. It is therefore important that you pay attention to how they interact with you and, more specifically, the things you say. If your baby doesn’t seem to notice you’re there until you appear, or if your toddler doesn’t seem to listen when you call their name, it could be a sign of hearing loss. The same site notes that if you suspect your child has hearing loss, you should call their doctor as soon as possible. For many children with hearing loss, treatments are available to help your child hear and/or develop language skills, including hearing aids, tubes and cochlear implants. And for children with incurable hearing lossit is important that they access services early to learn how to communicate with their world without sound.

They don’t pass a hearing screening

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According to Babysfirsttest.org, your baby will likely receive a newborn hearing screening within 24 hours of birth. This test is extremely important, as your baby’s ability to hear can have a significant impact on his speech and social development. The same site notes that failing this screening (which happens to about 2-10% of babies) does not necessarily mean your baby has hearing loss. Your baby’s results may be influenced by other factors, including fluid in the ears or crying during the screening. They will need to see a specialist called an audiologist for follow-up testing to determine if they have hearing loss.

They don’t surprise easily

The AAP notes that most babies jump when they hear loud noises. So if your baby doesn’t seem to notice noises, shows a startle reflex in response to sound at 1 month old, or turns her head to find the source of sounds at 3-4 months old, she might have trouble hearing.

They don’t respond when you call their name

According to the AAP, your children who don’t come when you call their name are often mistaken for them not listening or being willing. However, it could also very well be a sign of hearing loss, which means that if it’s continually a problem, it’s worth calling the doctor.

They make sounds they can feel

According to the APA, hearing impaired babies often make sounds they can feel (like blowing raspberries), as opposed to sounds they can hear, like vowels and consonants. If you notice your baby isn’t practicing words, it’s worth asking your doctor to test his hearing.

They are slow to sit up or walk without help

According to the AAP, there are two main types of hearing lossconductive hearing loss, which is caused by the structure of the ear or sounds blocking fluids, and sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by problems in the inner ear or nerves preventing nerves from transmitting sound to their brain. A surprising sign of the latter is difficulty sitting or walking, as the inner ear also impacts balance.

They don’t say words until their first birthday

Because your baby’s ability to hear impacts their ability to understand language and develop their ability to speak, according to the CDC, a sign of hearing loss is not being able to say basic words like mom or dad until their first birthday. Although all children develop language at different rates, it’s important to schedule a hearing screening right away if your 1-year-old isn’t saying a word.

They seem to hear some sounds, but not others

According to the APA, hearing loss may involve some sounds and not others, one or both ears. If your child seems to hear well when you’re next to them, or if they respond to lower-pitched noises but not high-pitched noises, they may have partial hearing loss.

They don’t follow instructions

As most parents can tell you, toddlers and older children are notoriously bad at following directions. As the CDC notes, this isn’t always just a sign that they’re not paying attention to you. It can also be a sign that they literally can’t hear everything you say. This is why it is important that your child’s doctor test your hearing if you are worried and, at the very least, they get a hearing screening before they start school.

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