When Should I Check my Child’s Hearing?
Written by Francis L’Africain,
When we think of deafness, the image of an elderly person often comes to mind. However, children and adults of all ages can suffer from hearing loss. This is not necessarily a sign of aging! According to Statistics Canada, about 8% of children aged 6 to 19 have some form of hearing loss. It would also affect about 4 to 6 newborns out of 1,000.
As some children need to wear glasses to see better, some children need sound amplification (such as hearing aids) to hear better. It is important to act quickly when hearing loss is suspected. Not hearing well can have an impact on language, social and cognitive development. The earlier we act, the more these negative impacts can be reduced.
Detect Hearing Loss at Birth
In Quebec, there is now the Quebec newborn hearing loss screening program. The goal of this program is to detect deafness, ideally before the first month of life. It is a painless and fast test that is done when the child is calm or asleep. The test is usually done at the hospital before the mother and child leave the institution. A growing number of hospitals offer this service at birth, but it is not yet available throughout Quebec.
What Are the Clues that my Child Might Have a Hearing Loss?
Even if the child has passed a screening test at birth, it is still possible that the child has mild hearing loss or single ear deafness. In all cases, it is important to remain alert to the signs of hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss:
- No response to loud noise
- Reacts little to surrounding sounds/ does not react to the call of his name
- Not interested in communication
- Talks little or especially through gestures
- Language difficulties (e.g., difficulty pronouncing certain vowels or consonants, mixing sounds)
- Behavioural disorders of unknown reason
- Tendency to exaggerate the volume of television
- Repeats very often
- Speaks loudly all the time
- Has difficulty following instructions, answering questions, etc.
- Delay in language development
To know if the child has a delay in the development of his language it is important to know the main markers:
- 0-3 months: The child jumps to loud noises
- Around 3-6 months: The child makes sounds, likes toys that make noise (e.g., rattle), and turns his eyes to known voices
- Around 6-12 months: The child turns his head towards the sounds, reacts to his name, understands certain words, babbles around 6 months, and says his first word around 12 months
- Around 12-18 months: Child says more and more words, understands simple instructions, and mimics sounds
- Around 18-24 months: The child has about 100 vocabulary words around 2 years old, can combine 2 words, reacts when called from another room
Deafness prevents hearing the sounds correctly and thus affects speech development. See here the link between deafness and language development. If you have any doubts about the hearing, talk to your pediatrician and consult an audiologist.
When to Consult in Audiology?
As soon as you have doubts about your child’s hearing! If some of the above clues apply to your child, he or she may have a hearing loss. You can also discuss this with your pediatrician. Sometimes the child does not hear well if there is too much earwax in the ear canal. It is important that the ear wax is safely removed by a professional and not with a cotton swab.
It may also be useful to have your child’s ears checked before school starts. In this way, you ensure that your child has the best possible conditions to succeed in school. Even a slight hearing loss can cause difficulties in the classroom. The classroom is a noisy environment, making it more difficult to hear and it is where it is particularly important to understand instructions.
It is possible to make an audiology appointment in a private clinic or in a hospital.
Would you like to make an appointment at one of our ODYO clinics? One of our audiologists will be happy to meet you!