HEARING LOSS IN CHILDREN
Fortunately, permanent hearing loss in Australian children is uncommon, with only 0.35% of Australian children having a permanent hearing loss. Many more Australian children experience temporary hearing loss though, with ear infections (called otitis media) one of the most common childhood illnesses. Hearing loss in children should be taken seriously, as hearing is vital to a child’s normal development and ability to learn. Ultimately, if left untreated, hearing loss can affect speech development and educational outcomes. Early treatment is best.
Western Australia has a hearing screening program for newborns available in most major hospitals, which tests your baby’s hearing at birth. This screening does not rule out mild to moderate hearing loss, but will pick up more severe hearing losses. Most children with permanent hearing losses develop the loss sometime after birth, meaning it is still important to know the signs of hearing loss in children, and the ages when it is most likely to develop.
Warning Signs of Hearing Loss in Children:
- Baby not responding to sounds or changing their response to sounds
- Baby not babbling from 6 months old
- Late speech or other speech and language delays
- Chronic ear infections
- Attention and behavioural problems, especially at school
- Parental concern – you know your child best
If you notice any of these warning signs in your child then please see an audiologist and have their hearing tested. We perform child hearing tests at our Perth and Geraldton hearing clinics. Due to the special equipment needed to test children please see our child hearing test page for information on where we can see your child.
When Children are Most Likely to Develop a Hearing Loss
Children are most likely to develop a hearing loss at the following times:
- 6 months old due to hormone spike
- When they first start interacting with other children, due to exposure to viruses
- When they first start day-care or school, due to exposure to viruses
Children can still develop a hearing loss at any age so it is important to remain aware of the warning signs of hearing loss and act if you are concerned.
Child health nurse screenings include screenings for hearing loss, but hearing loss can develop at any age, so if you are concerned about your child’s hearing you should see an audiologist. You do not need a referral to see an audiologist.
Who to See for Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing and Audiology has a paediatric audiologist, Kerryn, who is specially trained to assess children’s hearing. She was a part of the team that developed the newborn hearing screening program and has years of experiencing working with children. If you are concerned about your child’s hearing then having them tested by an audiologist is the first step in diagnosing and treating the problem.
For information on how the ear works and types of hearing loss please see our hearing loss page. Please be aware that the ear’s anatomy is essentially the same in children and adults, it is hearing loss’s causes and complications that are very different. Please refer to the current page for the causes and complications of hearing loss in children.
Please click here for more information on Hearing and Audiology’s child hearing tests, including information on our Perth and Geraldton child hearing test locations.
Book an Appointment Today
For more information about our hearing healthcare services, please call (08) 9388 8003 or book online using the form below. We conduct hearing tests at our Perth based clinics, located in Subiaco and Duncraig, as well as at our Geraldton clinic.