It’s normal for parents to worry about their babies. Newborns and young children are challenging, no doubt about it. And with a lack of sleep and exhaustion, parents can be overwhelmed with all the changes in their lives. Many times they find themselves wondering if they are doing the right things for their baby. Does my baby have hearing loss? Should I get a hearing test for children?
Hearing loss is not uncommon amongst children of all ages: Six out of every thousand children have some type of unilateral or bilateral hearing loss.
The following article is designed to be a guide to your child’s hearing health. It will provide necessary information about when to seek a hearing test for children, where to find help and what signs to watch out for as your child grows.
All babies born in Australia will be offered a newborn hearing test. This is a quick, painless hearing test that is routinely done while your baby is sleeping. Make sure your baby gets this test, which includes a simple, age-appropriate hearing assessment. And don’t forget to follow up on any recommendations given.
As hearing loss may not be noticeable in the first few weeks of life, screening is the first step to recognising and diagnosing hearing loss in babies. Without hearing testing, a baby with hearing loss may not be diagnosed until 12 months of age and sometimes up to three years of age.
This is too late as it’s a very important period for speech and language development. These children are at a much higher risk of language, social and academic delays and impairments later in life.
If your baby has not reached any of these milestones, don’t worry, every kid is different and minor delays are often no reason to be concerned. Most children will sooner or later catch up. Yet, if you have any reason to believe that your baby or young child may be suffering from a hearing impairment, do not hesitate to consult with your GP.
It is always a good idea to schedule a hearing test for children. You can find a local paediatric audiologist or ask a doctor or maternal child health nurse to help you find one. It is important to seek early intervention for hearing loss, as it may affect the child’s speech and language development. Untreated hearing loss carries a lot of risks.
If you are worried about hearing loss in your child, ask your doctor for a referral to a trusted, local audiologist, and get a children’s hearing test to ease your mind. A children’s hearing test is quick, easy, painless and will even be fun for your child. Your audiologist will discuss the results of your child’s hearing test at the end of the appointment.
For more information, we recommend checking out Deaf Children Australia’s guide on recognising hearing loss in children.
When a child suffers from repeated ear infections, they can experience fluctuating hearing loss. This hearing loss is likely to be temporary and may require medical intervention. A children’s hearing test is important to determine if the infections are causing hearing loss.
This can be caused by a number of things. Children with a speech and language delay will need a children’s hearing test to see if hearing loss is the cause.
Any parental concerns of a child’s hearing loss will be taken seriously. An audiologist will do a children’s hearing test and make recommendations for medical treatment and appropriate referrals if necessary.
Your child is old enough to get a hearing test when it has enough muscle strength and control to move their head towards the source of a sound. That is usually right around the 4-month mark. You can have your baby’s hearing tested through the Newborn Hearing Screening Programs all around Australia.
If you only come to suspect that your baby or child is suffering from hearing loss at a later point, contact your GP for a referral to a hearing health professional to have your child’s hearing assessed. Don’t delay testing, because if your child does have hearing loss, it may affect their speech and language development.
It can be difficult to identify if a child is struggling with their hearing or not. The younger they are, the more difficult it gets, because they do not know how to articulate their experience. When they are too young to communicate or unaware there is a problem, children often silently attempt to deal with these problems themselves, which can lead to isolation and a range of health issues.
Audiologists are hearing health professionals that deal with all sorts of hearing impairments. They can assess your child’s hearing, help you manage existing hearing loss, if any, and devise a treatment plan.
The friendly and experienced Attune Hearing audiologists work with children of all ages, from babies and young children to teenagers all around Australia. They can quickly identify hearing difficulties with stress-free and age-appropriate hearing tests.
There are different ways to test children depending on their developmental age and abilities.
This is a hearing test for older babies. The child is trained to turn towards a puppet or cartoon when they hear a sound. This hearing test will usually start with sounds played through a speaker and may progress to the child wearing headphones or a bone conductor. Unlike the newborn test, your baby needs to be awake for this test. The audiologist will usually be able to give you the results immediately. Occasionally a return appointment is required.
This is a fun children’s hearing test where your child will play a simple game with the audiologist while wearing headphones. Each time they hear a sound, they will do a simple task like placing a peg in a board to build a tower or putting a marble in a chute.
A painless pressure test that shows how the eardrum is moving. A small tip is placed on the outside of the child’s ear and the child will hear a humming sound. A probe in the small tip will measure the volume of the ear canal and how well the eardrum is moving. This will provide information about the outer and middle ear and aid in diagnosing hearing loss.
Please keep in mind that timing is everything. The sooner you identify hearing changes in your baby or young child, the better. Have a chat with your pediatrician if you think that your child may be affected by hearing loss.
If you have concerns that your child has hearing loss, do not delay booking a children’s hearing test with your trusted, local Audiologist. Attune Hearing is here for all of your hearing needs and will provide you and your child with the right pathway to better hearing.