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Pediatrician checking ear of baby girl.

Does My Child Need a Hearing Test

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Rosemary Ashman
Published Date: Monday, June 14, 2021

By Dr. Rosemary Ashman, Partners in Pediatric Care
With consultation from CHKD's pediatric audiology team

When a child has hearing loss, it can affect their ability to communicate, use language, and learn social skills.

Most infants are screened for hearing problems before they leave the hospital, but some children may develop hearing loss later on in childhood.

Some babies develop delayed-onset hearing loss – hearing loss that happens after they are born. Others may have progressive hearing loss, which is when the condition worsens over time. Risk factors for delayed-onset hearing loss can include a NICU or special care nursery stay and/or other medical interventions they may receive during their stay. Family history of childhood hearing loss is also a risk factor.

Children who are at risk for delayed-onset or progressive hearing loss should have their hearing screened at birth and then have a full hearing evaluation between 12 to 24 months of age.

Some children develop delayed-onset hearing loss even without any known risk factors. Hearing loss can occur at any age, so it is important to monitor you child’s development and be on the lookout for common symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss symptoms vary by age.

Make sure to discuss your concerns with your pediatrician if your baby has the following signs:

  • Does not get startled by loud noises.
  • Does not turn their head toward the source of a sound after they are 6 months old.
  • Does not say single words by the time they are 1 year old.
  • Does not turn their head when you call their name.
  • Appears to hear some sounds but not others.

For older children, the signs include the following:

  • Delayed speech.
  • Unclear speech.
  • Difficulty following or understanding directions.
  • Listens to devices at a higher-than-normal volume.
  • Often asks someone to repeat what they said.

If you suspect your child has hearing loss, it’s important to immediately let your pediatrician know. The sooner hearing loss is addressed, the fewer effects it can have on a child’s development. Your pediatrician may refer you to an audiologist, a provider that specializes in testing hearing, to have a full hearing evaluation that is age appropriate for your child.

Hearing screenings can be completed at the pediatrician’s office starting around 3 to 4 years of age. This is a shorter test to see if your child needs further hearing testing. If your child does not pass the screening at the doctor’s office, they will refer them to audiology for a full hearing evaluation.

Remember, hearing loss is not always obvious. Some children go years without being diagnosed. The best way to determine if your child has hearing loss is to schedule a hearing evaluation.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.