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Is My Baby's Hearing Normal?

Baby's Hearing from ENT Carolina - Gastonia, Shelby, Belmont

Determining if Your Child Has a Hearing Loss

If you think that your child has a hearing loss, you might be right. The following checklist will assist in determining whether or not your child might have a hearing loss.   Please read each item carefully and check only those factors that apply to you, your family or your child.

More than 3 million American children have a hearing loss. An estimated 1.3 million of these are under three years of age. You, the parents and grandparents, are usually the first to discover hearing loss in your babies, because you spend the most time with them. If, at any time, you suspect your baby has a hearing loss, discuss it with your doctor.

Your baby's hearing can be professionally tested at any age. Computerized hearing tests make it possible to screen newborns. Some babies are in a higher risk category for having hearing loss than others. If you check any items on this list, your child should have a hearing test as soon as possible.

All children should have their hearing tested before they start school. This could reveal mild hearing losses that the parent or child cannot detect. Loss of hearing in one ear may also be determined in this way. Such a loss, although not obvious, may affect speech and language.

Hearing loss can even result from earwax or fluid in the ears. Many children with this type of temporary hearing loss can have their hearing restored through medical treatment or minor surgery.

In contrast to temporary hearing loss, some children have nerve deafness, which is permanent. Most of these children have some usable hearing. Few are totally deaf. Early diagnosis, early fitting of hearing aids, and an early start on special educational programs can help maximize the child's existing hearing.

Use this simple list to answer the question "Is My Baby's Hearing Normal?"


Risk Criteria: Check Each Item that Applies

During Pregnancy
Mother had German measles, a viral infection or flu
Mother drank alcoholic beverages
My Family
Has one or more individuals with permanent or progressive hearing loss that was present or developed early in life
My Newborn (Birth to 28 Days of Age)
Weighed less than 3.5 pounds at birth
Has an unusual appearance of the face or ears
Was jaundiced (yellow skin) at birth and almost had or did have an exchange blood transfusion
Was in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for more than two days
Received an antibiotic medication given through a needle in a vein
Had meningitis
My Infant (29 Days to Age Two Years)
Received an antibiotic medication given through a needle in a vein
Had meningitis
Has a neurological disorder
Had a serious injury with a fracture of the skull with or without bleeding from the ear

Response to the Environment (Speech &: Language Development):

Newborn (Birth to 6 Months)
Does not startle, move, cry, or react in any way to unexpected loud noises
Does not awaken to loud noises
Does not freely imitate sound
Cannot be soothed by voice alone
Does not turn his/her head in the direction of my voice
Young Infant
Does not point to familiar persons or objects when asked
Does not babble, or babbling has stopped.
By 12 months is not understanding simple phrases such as "wave by-bye", "clap hands", by listening alone
My Infant (13 Months through Two Years)
Does not accurately turn in the direction of a soft voice on the first call
Is not alert to environmental sounds
Does not respond to sound or does not locate where sound is coming from
Does not begin to imitate and use simple words for familiar people and things around the home
Does not sound like or use speech like other children of similar age
Does not listen to TV at a normal volume
Does not show consistent growth in the understanding and the use of words to communicate

What you should do

If you have checked one or more of these factors, your child may be at risk for hearing loss. At risk simply means there is a better than average chance of a hearing loss.

If your child is at risk, you should take him or her for an ear examination and a hearing test. This can be done at any age, as early as just after birth.

If you did not check any of these factors but you suspect that your child is not hearing normally, even if your child's doctor is not concerned, have your child's hearing tested by an audiologist and when appropriate, his or her speech evaluated by a speech and language pathologist.   If no hearing loss exists, the test will not have hurt him or her.   However, if your child does have a hearing loss, delayed diagnosis could affect speech and language development.

This leaflet is provided as a public service to parents who are concerned that their child might have a hearing loss.  It is not a substitute for an ear examination or a hearing test.   Hearing loss can exist in children even though none of these checklist items are present.