Should you be worried about your baby’s hearing?
Not worried, but careful. Most babies are born with perfect hearing. There are 5-6 infants who are born with hearing loss out of 1000 neonates. As babies depend on their hearing to learn from the very beginning, it’s essential to identify and look out for remedy as soon as possible. Hearing loss in babies can cause learning defects.
Babies who do not receive timely help for hearing loss suffer from language delays, reading difficulty, and trouble with developing social skills. In fact, babies with mild hearing loss are expected to be held back a grade than babies with normal hearing by ten times.
The best time for babies with hearing loss to receive help is before they are 6 months old.
How to check for hearing loss in babies?
These days most hospitals screen a new baby’s hearing before sending him/her home. This screening is done using a couple of newborn hearing tests, which takes only five to ten minutes each. If your baby was not screened in the hospital, ask your doctor about checking his/her hearing as soon as possible (within the first month).
Parents and caregivers are often the first ones to notice when a baby is not hearing well. So take a note. If your baby is not reacting to sounds as he/she is supposed to- tell the doctor right away.
Listed below are some guidelines for what to expect in a baby with normal hearing:
- Baby startles when he/she hears a loud sound.
- At around 2 months of age, he/she becomes quiet when he/she hears your voice.
- When he/she is 4 or 5 months old, he/she will look towards a loud sound.
- At 6 months, he/she begins to imitate sounds and babble.
- At around 9 months, he/she will turn toward a softer sound.
- By 1 year, he/she responds to music and says ma-ma and da-da
What causes hearing problems?
There are 2 types of hearing loss – congenital (baby was born with it) and acquired (baby lost hearing sometime after birth).
In some cases hearing impairment is inherited, even if both parents have normal hearing. Other cases, a baby’s hearing is damaged because his/her mother had a viral infection during pregnancy, such as toxoplasmosis, German measles (rubella), or herpes.
Some babies are born with impaired hearing because of abnormal inner ear development, low birth weight or premature birth. In some cases, there is no explanation.
After birth, a baby may suffer hearing loss when the nerves in his/her inner ear are damaged by a tumor, an injury, or an infection such as chicken pox, meningitis, the flu, or mononucleosis. Medications such as chemotherapy agents, loop diuretics, salicylates, and certain intravenous antibiotics may also cause hearing loss.
If your baby has repeated ear infections or middle ear fluid, your doctor may recommend a hearing test. Doctor may also recommend cleaning the fluid that has accumulated behind the eardrums of the baby so that the ears remain ventilated. Make sure you look out for signs of hearing loss in babies.
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