Every parent is concerned about their child’s health and well being right from the birth of the child. They observe the child in order to make sure that the child is growing and learning things according to his/her age.
Below are some of the milestones that can be beneficial is assess the auditory development of your child. Your baby should be able to do the following:
Newborn (0 to 4 months)
- reacts suddenly to loud sounds through movements such as widening the eyes, jumping or extending the arms and legs
- eye movement or turning the head towards the direction of the sound source
3 to 6 months
- turn and search out a different sound
- respond to the sound of their name
- the baby will play with sounds by cooing and babbling
- the baby should be smile or stop crying when either of the parents speaks to him/her
- the baby should act differently to the ways the parents talk to him/her (angry, friendly, and loving)
6 to 10 months
- should be able to seek out the sound source
- the baby should look towards the speaker
- the baby should respond to both soft and loud sounds
- respond to familiar sounds such as a doorbell ringing or a dog barking
- the baby should also pay attention when the parents talk to him/her
10 to 15 months
- increase his or her babbling
- begin to more closely resemble speech
- baby is able to put sounds together in different patterns.
15 to 18 months
- able to directly localize to most sounds
- the child can understand simple phrases, identify familiar objects such as body parts and follow simple directions.
- should have an expressive vocabulary of 20 or more words and short phrases.
CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS IN CHILDREN
Causes of hearing loss can be broadly classified in congenital and acquired hearing loss. Congenital hearing loss is when the child has a hearing loss from its birth. Acquired hearing loss is when the child acquires a hearing loss due to factors that take place after birth.
Children with risk of congenital hearing loss can be screened using a screening procedure called the High Risk Registry at birth. The factors that put the child at risk of hearing loss are,
- Family history of hereditary childhood sensorineural hearing loss
- Hyperbilirubinemia (Neonatal Jaundice)
- Ototoxic medications
- Bacterial meningitis
- Birth weight less than 1500 grams (3.3lbs)
- In utero infections (cytomegalovirus, rubella, syphilis, herpes, and toxoplasmosis)
- Craniofacial anomalies (including pinna and ear canal)
- APGAR scores of 0-4 at 1 minute or 0-6 at 5 minutes
- Mechanical ventilation lasting 5 days or longer
- Stigmata or other findings associated with a syndrome known to include a sensorineural and/or conductive hearing loss
- Maternal infection or trauma during pregnancy
- Congenital Syphilis
- Anoxia or asphyxia at birth
- Persistent Fetal Circulation (pulmonary hypertension)
- Low Birth Weight
- High Forceps Delivery
- Violent Uterine Contractions
- Congenital Rubella
- Herpes I and II
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Congenital Rubella
- Congenital hearing loss may be also caused by syndromes
SYMPTOMS OF HEARING LOSS IN CHILDREN
- Deviation from the normal auditory development pattern is one of the earliest and common signs of hearing loss. It is seen that the child may develop normally up to 4 to 6 months, even if the child has impaired hearing. The child may start babbling, but may not continue babbling if the hearing is affected.
- The parent should be concerned if the infant/child does not startle to loud sound.
- Watching the Television on an inappropriately high volume can also indicate a hearing loss. This can be easily noticed by parents or other care givers as well.
- Many parents express concerns that the child is naughty, acting out, in attentive, not responding when called his/her name, bringing in poor grades, prefer to work alone, is withdrawn. All these signs may not necessarily indicate a hearing loss, but may be caused due to hearing loss.
- Poor quality or delayed speech can also be attributed to hearing loss.
- Some children with impaired hearing show signs such as tilting head towards speaker to listen, searching for the source of sound, frequently ask for repetitions, have difficulty understanding speech in the presence of background noise, try to lip read.
IDENTIFICATION OF HEARING LOSS IN CHILDREN
Hearing loss in children can be identifies as early as at birth. At birth, an infant screening carried out, helps to assess the hearing of the child, rule out congenital hearing loss and schedule regular check ups for children who are at risk of hearing loss.
Hearing losses which later develop without an early risk signs can also be assessed using a variety of techniques. Rehabilitation when started at an early age, is most beneficial of the child’s speech and language development.
WHEN TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP
If the parents are concerned about their child’s hearing, or they notice any of the signs and symptoms associated with hearing loss, it is best to consult an audiologist and an ENT specialist at the earliest, so as to rule out any chances of hearing loss.
It is always better to identify any hearing loss, however mild it may be, at the earliest so that the necessary treatment can be carried out at the earliest to prevent any long term effect on the child’s development.