From the Specialist 2. Common Misconceptions About Infant Hearing. Dr. Russell A. Faust.
This handout was written by Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD, Otolaryngologist
Parents can identify hearing loss by clapping their hands or banging pots behind baby’s head.
Even if your baby is completely deaf, clapping hands or banging pots near them may alert you to a problem, but it may not. Children, including babies, compensate for hearing loss. They use visual cues such as shadows or parent’s expressions, or they may feel the breeze behind them caused by the motion.
Parents will know if their infant has a hearing loss by the time they are 2-3 months of age.
Prior to universal screening of newborns for hearing loss, the average age at which children were diagnosed with hearing loss was 2-3 years of age. Children with only mild-to-moderate hearing loss were commonly not diagnosed until 4 years of age! We connect with our children so well in so many ways, we just are not perceptive of hearing loss.
There is no hurry to identify hearing loss – hearing loss does not need to be identified until the child is 2-3 years old.
Children whose hearing loss is identified when they are older than 6 months old can have significant speech and language delays. When children are identified before 6 months and have their hearing loss corrected, they do not have these delays and they develop speech and language equal to their hearing peers.
Doctors are knowledgeable about hearing loss. They will guide you about what to do if you suspect that your child may have hearing loss.
Despite affecting about 3 per 1,000 live births, making hearing loss one of the most common congenital anomalies, many pediatricians and other physicians know very little about how to evaluate it or what to expect. For example, they often do not appreciate how critical it is to make an early diagnosis and get treatment, in order for your child to have normal speech and language development. It may be necessary to seek referral to a Pediatric Ear, Nose & Throat specialist or a Pediatric Audiologist.
You are either born completely deaf, or lose your hearing when you get old.
Hearing loss can occur at any time, at any age. You can be born completely deaf, with mild hearing loss, or normal hearing, or anything in between. You can lose hearing gradually over time, or suddenly, at any age.
You can’t learn to speak if you’re deaf.
With technological advancements such as programmable hearing aids, “assistive listening devices”, and cochlear implants, many people with hearing loss can hear, and learn and use spoken language. Early diagnosis and intervention is important for successful speech and language development.
A mother who questions her baby’s hearing is just being anxious or imagining things.
As mentioned above, some mothers will be told to stop worrying, that there is “a big window of language development” when they question their child’s lagging vocabulary. Be persistent. Remember: the earlier that hearing loss is diagnosed, the better the results for speech and language development.