When an infant has some form of undetected hearing loss it can have a profound effect on their development as they grow, including causing delays in developing important communication, learning and social skills. If not detected at birth, however, new parents may experience difficulty in spotting the signs of hearing loss in their infant. If you are a new parent with concerns about whether your child is hearing at a normal level, the following information about infant hearing loss will help you learn to recognize possible symptoms and seek professional diagnosis and treatment to correct the problem as quickly as possible.
How many infants are born with hearing loss?
While most children are born with the ability to hear normally, statistics compiled by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) show that for every 1000 children born in the United States each year, 2 to 3 will be born with some form of hearing loss. This research also shows that an overwhelming percentage of these infants, around 90 percent, are born to parents who hear within normal ranges.
What are some common signs that an infant has some form of hearing loss?
Newborns typically undergo one or more hearing tests at birth or shortly afterward. While these tests are generally considered reliable, infants who pass these screenings can still develop hearing loss in infancy or later. Common signs exhibited by infants with undetected hearing loss typically include:
- lacking a startle response to sudden loud noises
- failing to be soothed by soft voice or sounds when upset
- continuing to sleep soundly in noisy settings or when people are talking nearby
- failing to turn toward sounds or voices
- failing to exhibit changes of expression when noises or voices are nearby
- seeming to react more to vibrations than actual sounds
- failing to learn to recognize their spoken name
- failing to babble and experiment with making verbal sounds
Parents who see their child exhibiting one or more of these behaviors should bring their concerns to the attention of their child's pediatrician immediately and pursue further testing by a reputable audiologist.
Because hearing loss can result from many different causes, it is important to get a diagnosis as early as possible so that your child can be treated appropriately. When hearing loss is treated early in a child's life, your child has a better chance to learn normal verbalization skills than a child who's hearing loss goes undetected during the early years of their development.