How Hearing Aids Support Childhood Development
Pediatric Hearing Loss
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about “2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.”
There are many different causes for hearing loss in children. If a child is born with hearing loss, it is called congenital hearing loss. Congenital hearing loss may be caused by genetics, infection during pregnancy, or premature birth, among other health conditions.
On the other hand, acquired hearing loss occurs after birth. Otitis media (ear infections) is a common cause of acquired hearing loss in children, as well as infections such as meningitis or measures. Exposure to loud noises or head injury may also lead to hearing loss in children.
Newborns in the US receive hearing screenings before being discharged from the hospital. Because hearing happens in the brain, the screenings for hearing do not require any effort of the infant. Otoacoustic emissions and auditory brainstem response screenings are simple and painless procedures.
However, because hearing loss may be acquired, it is important to keep track of your child’s development as they grow. Ongoing annual hearing tests are also a key part of good hearing health.
How Hearing Loss Affects Childhood Development
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) outlines four main ways that hearing loss may affect childhood development.
Hearing loss may cause delay in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills (speech and language). The effects of language deficiency lead to learning problems and reduced academic achievement. Additionally, difficulty with communication may adversely affect a child’s social development, leading to isolation and poor self-concept. In the long term, untreated hearing loss in a child may hinder their future vocational choices.
What are the Signs of Pediatric Hearing Loss?
Depending on the age of your child, there are many different signs that may indicate pediatric hearing loss. Here is a short guide to the signs. For more extensive information, visit these communication benchmarks from ASHA.
Between birth and four months, pay attention to whether your baby awakens, stirs, or is startled by loud sounds. When your baby hears your voice, do they coo and smile? Are they calm at a familiar voice? Babies recognize familiar figures in their life. They should smile when spoken too, or cry differently for different needs. They should turn their eyes toward familiar sounds, and notice when you rattle toys.
As babies turn into toddlers, they should begin to respond to their name, to changes in your tone of voice, and understand simple requests. Most children begin speaking around 9 to 15 months, saying “mama “ or “dada.” By 15 to 24 months, children will begin to say different words and name common objects, or put two or more words together.
Preschool & Older
Does your child turn up the TV volume very high? Do they have difficulty understanding what people are saying, or do they not reply when you call for them? These are some key signs of hearing loss (not just in children – but also adults!). If your child complains of earaches or head noises, or has difficulty articulating in speech, this may be a sign of hearing loss.
Treating Pediatric Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids
The good news: there are many treatments for pediatric hearing loss. The important thing is to identify hearing loss early on and seek a hearing evaluation. Working with an audiologist ensures that your child will have the proper audiological tools as they grow.
Hearing loss is identified through a series of hearing evaluations. The configuration and degree of hearing loss will be discussed with the results of the hearing evaluation. From these tools, we are able to identify and customize hearing solutions to improve your child’s hearing health.
Hearing aids are an important treatment for pediatric hearing loss. There are many options available on the market that are fully customizable and will grow along with your child. With new and advanced technology available, hearing aids have become small, sophisticated, and discreet “mini computers” that process sound quickly and are durable and sturdy for everyday use.
To learn more about hearing aids for children and teens, tune in next time. If you believe your child may be experiencing hearing loss, visit us at Greentree Hearing and Audiology for a consultation.
Hearing loss is treatable! To learn more, visit us at
Greentree Hearing and Audiology.
10900 Manchester Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63122