Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Children with Hearing Loss

Children with hearing loss is on the rise.

Hearing loss is on the rise among children and is now the most common birth defect in the United States. Delays in diagnosing and even misdiagnosis of infant or childhood hearing loss can negatively impact language skills, social development, and education. Having your infant or child tested for hearing loss is critical to minimize the detrimental effects of undiagnosed hearing loss.

Early evaluation, detection, and successful treatment of hearing loss can help your child achieve his or her optimal intellectual, physical, and emotional health. Below is a list of questions and answers about childhood hearing loss, testing, and statistics for concerned parents.

Q & A: For Caring Parents Concerned about Childhood Hearing Loss

Is my child too young for hearing aids?
• Typically the earlier the intervention for hearing loss the better.
• Hearing aids have been fitted on children as young as three months old.
• Specialized professionals use proven formulas and sophisticated equipment to optimally fit hearing aids for ideal comfort and function.

What test will my child need to undergo to diagnose hearing loss? (Test given depends on a child’s age. Below are a few examples.)
• Behavioral Hearing Test—Pediatric patient is asked to respond to auditory stimulation. (Not appropriate for all ages.)
• Auditory Brainstem Response Testing—Comfortable earphones placed on the ears emitting a sound picked up by delicate equipment that measures how a child’s brain responds.
• Central Auditory Processing Evaluation—A series of tests designed to determine if a child has a problem with discerning certain sounds.
• Otoacoustic Emissions—A soft sponge earphone is placed in the ear canal to measure the presence or absence of typical “echo” responses to sound.

Is it important to treat hearing loss in one ear?
• It is important to treat all forms of hearing loss, including unilateral. Studies have shown unilateral hearing loss affects a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Is screening for hearing loss mandatory?
• Recently some states have ordered mandatory testing of newborns for hearing loss.
• It is essential for parents to test children for hearing loss as incidents are on the rise and hearing loss in newborns is the number one birth defect.

Is it possible my child developed hearing loss after birth?
• Late onset or progressive hearing loss can happen at any age, so too can Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). That is why it is essential for parents to have their children routinely tested for hearing loss.

Could my child’s hearing loss be caused by an ear infection? (The cause of hearing loss needs to be determined by a hearing health professional.)
• It is not uncommon for hearing loss to be caused by chronic ear infections, but this in and of itself might not be the reason for your child’s hearing loss.
• Hearing loss is varied and can have many causes including genetics, injury, and disease.

What happens if my child has hearing loss?
• An audiologist will do everything to determine and offer you the best treatment for your child’s hearing loss. Options include amplifying sound through hearing aids, appropriate surgical intervention, or in some cases a cochlear implant may be considered.

If you suspect you, your child, or other family members have hearing loss don't delay seeking treatment. Treating hearing loss helps prevent mental and physical decline and has been tied to a higher quality of life. If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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