Based on statistics from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), out of every one thousand children in the U.S., 2 to 3 are born deaf or with impaired hearing abilities. Childhood hearing loss may be brought on by congenital abnormalities in the ear, by a middle ear infection known as otitis media, by physical injury or exposure to loud noises, or by illnesses such as measles, meningitis, or chickenpox. Early hearing screenings are important to detect hearing loss, because the sooner it is found, the greater the child’s chances to develop their full potential.

Luckily, the most common signs of hearing loss in children are well documented for parents and caregivers to look for. In babies, the key thing to look for is how the infant reacts – or doesn’t react – to sounds. Observe whether the child is startled by loud noises and turns toward the source of the sound. Also look for failure to turn the head when you call her name or reacting to some sounds and not others.

Children with otitis media may also pull or rub at their ears, become listless or inattentive, have fevers, complain of ear pain, often do not understand instructions, and may ask for the TV to be played louder. Watch how your child interacts with others. Notice if they say “what?” or “huh?” frequently. Also note if they seem to watch the face of the speaker very carefully. As children get older, even mild hearing loss may cause delays in speech and language development and can lead to learning problems once the child starts school. It may also create emotional or behavioral problems.

This is the reason that many states have instituted mandatory early hearing screenings, using tests that are completely painless, and that can be conducted even on babies. The sooner any issues are identified, the sooner they can be addressed. That’s why it is “never too soon to get a first hearing test”. So give us a call. We’d be happy to schedule a hearing screening for your child or children and to help if any hearing problems are found.

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