I Think My Child Has a Hearing Problem

Your newborn doesn’t startle at loud sounds. Your elementary school child turns the television volume up much higher than anyone else. Your tween is asking “What?” a lot more often and their grades seem to be suffering.

These signs are red flags that suggest your child might have a hearing problem. Research suggests that hearing loss affects 1-3% of all children. At Penguin Pediatrics, our pediatrician, Dr. Umesh Kodu, offers age-appropriate screenings if you have a question about your child’s hearing.

Look for these specific signs that suggest your child has a hearing problem.

Do you notice these signs of hearing loss?

Hearing loss can occur due to genetics, prematurity, infection, exposure to loud sounds, or certain medications. Hearing loss shows up in different ways, depending on the age of your child.

In newborns, you may notice that your baby doesn’t seem to startle at loud noises or doesn’t recognize your voice by the age of 3 months. By six months, your baby should turn their head toward a sound, and by 12 months they should begin to mimic words like “Mama” or “bye-bye.” If they miss these markers, it’s wise to get them a complete hearing screening.

In older children, it can be harder to detect hearing loss because they’ve already established speech and language patterns. Hearing loss may appear as irregular speech, frequently asking “What?” or “Huh?,” high television or computer volume, and failure to follow directions. 

Of course, some of these may be simply your child ignoring you or not focusing and paying attention. Do consider, though, that they could also be a coping mechanism for partial hearing loss.

Should I have my child’s hearing screened?

Your child should undergo a hearing screening by the time they reach one month of age. If they have early hearing loss, immediate intervention is critical in helping them develop speech, communication, and social skills. Usually, this first screening is done in the hospital right after birth. If the delivery doctors tell you that your baby did not pass this screening, you should get a full hearing test before your baby is 3 months old.

Any other time you have a question about your child’s hearing, it’s a good idea to schedule them for a full hearing test. This is also true if they fail to pass a routine hearing screening done in grade school, if they have trouble with speech development, or if you notice signs that suggest hearing loss.

Even if your child seems to have normal hearing, we’ll do screenings at your child’s regular appointments starting at age 3. These screenings may begin earlier if your child has a specific medical condition or a family history of hearing problems.

What are the next steps in care if my child has hearing loss?

Your child’s treatment depends on the degree and nature of their hearing loss. For some types of hearing loss, Dr. Kodu may refer you to a specialist that can offer cochlear implants or hearing aids. Other children may be helped with surgery. We can also offer you family support services if your child needs help with learning or sign language instruction.

If you suspect your child is suffering from some sort of hearing problem, don’t hesitate to call Penguin Pediatrics for a thorough evaluation. We can check the mechanics of hearing as well as look for structural irregularities that may be the cause.

Call one of our offices in Ashburn or Stone Ridge, Virginia, to make an appointment or use the online tool to schedule.

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