The ability to hear is very important for children to develop language and speech skills as they grow. In the past, loss of hearing was not detected until the child was around two years old. Research and studies have shown that detection of loss of hearing before a child is six months old generally results in better outcomes than when done after six months of age. Because of this, screening of newborn hearing has become popular in hospitals across Canada, and children with hearing loss are being identified at much younger ages and treated.
Causes of Childhood Hearing Loss
Hearing loss in children is a result of any of the following. The list is not exhaustive
- Birth complications
- Lack of oxygen
- Requirement of blood transfusion
- Premature birth
- Nervous system disorder or brain disorder
- Use of ototoxic drugs during pregnancy
- Maternal diabetes
- Drug Abuse during pregnancy
- Genetic hearing loss (passed on from parents to child)
- Genetic syndromes like Treacher Collins syndrome, Usher syndrome, Crouzon syndrome, Waardenburg syndrome, Down syndrome, etc.
- Perforated eardrum
- Progressive diseases like otosclerosis
- Infection like meningitis, cough, etc
- A serious injury to the head
- Exposure to loud noise
- Untreated ear infections
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Transient hearing loss, etc.
A Montreal based Audiology clinic – Audiologie Centre-Ouest recommends that parents should watch out for the following important speech and hearing milestones in their children. This will help you as a parent detect if your child’s hearing is developing properly. The important milestones are listed below regardless of age:
- Wake up at loud sounds
- Respond to your cooing or smiling
- Be calm at familiar voice
- Make babbling sounds
- Smile when spoken to
- Notice toys that make sounds
- Repeat simple sounds
- Respond to name
- Name common objects
- Points to body parts when you ask
- Use many simple words
- Be able to point to familiar objects that you name
- Follow basic commands
- Speaking differently than other children of his age bracket
- Responds inappropriately to questions
- Turns up the TV volume incredibly high
- Problem understanding what people say to him
- Has problems academically
- Complain of ear pain or ear aches
- Can’t hear properly over the phone, etc.
Treatments for Childhood Hearing Loss
Hearing aids, cochlear implants and a combination of assistive listening or speech therapy devices are recommended forms of treatments. If your child shows any of the above signs, take him or her to a pediatric audiologist to have his or her hearing tested. Also, the child may have wax buildup, an ear infection or any other problem causing the loss of hearing, the audiologist or otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat also known as ENT Physician) will have the obstruction removed.
Thanks to technological advancement in the medical space, children with hearing loss now have the hope of regaining their hearing ability.