On Hearing Loss and Young Children: Five Astonishing Facts

Hearing loss can happen at any age. According to experts at the Academy of Audiology, nearly 12% of younger kids from age 6 through the teen years have hearing loss resulting from noise. Hearing loss is also the number one most common type of birth defect in the U.S. Nearly 12,000 children are born each year with some type of hearing loss says the American Speech and Language Association.

Some hearing loss can be prevented. – You may not realize that noise related hearing loss is very common and it can be avoided all together. It’s important to learn how to use protective gear such as earplugs and earmuffs to prevent loud noises from causing damage. And, be sure to keep the volume down on electronic devices.

Hearing loss may delay your child’s ability to learn normal language skills. – Children learn more about language from birth to 3 years of age than they do at any other time in life because during that time the brain is more receptive to learning language. Hearing is vital to normal speech development because this process begins in young children with the ability to listen. In order for children to learn proper reading skills, they must first develop good language skills.

Early intervention can improve language skills in children with hearing loss. – Early detection is vital. When hearing loss is caught early, children’s language skills develop normally. Studies have shown that infants whose hearing loss is detected after 6 months of age did comparably worse on language skill development compared to infants where the loss was detected and treated before 6 months.

Not every type of hearing loss is permanent.
– Hearing loss could be a temporary problem in some children resulting from issues such as ear wax occluding the middle ear, or ear infections. Some conditions resulting in hearing loss are temporary and can be resolved with medical treatment or minor surgery. Chronic (long term) ear infections could cause permanent hearing loss so be sure you seek professional help early on if ear infections are suspected.

Hearing loss signs and symptoms are often times initially observed by parents.
– Many times parents are the first to recognize signs of hearing loss in infants and small children. Response to your voice, noticing noises that toys make (such as rattles), and making babbling sounds are all signs to observe for to ensure infants have normal hearing. At 9 months your baby should respond to the sound of his/her name, repeat back some noises he/she hears and follow simple commands. For a more in depth list of normal milestones for babies and young children to assess possible hearing loss, ask your hearing specialist or audiologist. Be sure to find out about recommended screenings as well.

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