Based on data from the National Institutes of Health, out of every one thousand babies in the US, 2 to 3 are born deaf or with impaired hearing. Childhood hearing loss can be caused by developmental irregularities in the ear, by a middle ear infection known as otitis media, by injury or exposure to loud noises, or by diseases such as meningitis, measles, 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.

Fortunately, there are a number of indications of possible hearing loss that you, as a parent, can watch 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.

Otitis media will often cause children to complain of ear pain, but other signs to look for are pulling at or rubbing the ears, failing to understand instructions or increasing the TV volume. 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. Hearing loss is a serious concern. Even mild hearing loss can lead to delays in language and speech development and manifest in poor school performance.

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. There is no such thing as “too soon” when it comes to testing your children’s hearing. The sooner any conditions are found, the sooner they can be treated. We would be happy to arrange for a hearing screening for your child or children, and if any hearing problems are found, we have the expertise and resources to help solve them.