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When to See a Pediatric Audiologist

Early identification and intervention can help prevent further hearing loss so that your child can have the best hearing they can, which will help speech and language development. It can be hard to tell if a young child has any hearing loss. Working with your pediatrician, make note of whether your child responds to sounds or speech and be mindful of language development.

If your newborn wasn’t born in a hospital that screens for hearing, get their hearing checked within the first three weeks after birth. A newborn hearing test will determine whether a follow-up test is required within three months. If hearing loss is detected, treatment with a pediatric audiologist should begin right away.

Hearing screening tests usually are done at ages 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 years, then again in the preteen and teen years.

How to Know if Your Child May Have Hearing Loss

The list below is a basic guide for hearing and speech development from birth to age 3. It’s not a good idea to rely on hearing tests performed at home. Instead, talk to your pediatrician and alert them if your child doesn’t reach these hearing milestones:

Birth to 3 months

  • Recognizes and quiets to parent’s or caregiver’s voice
  • Startles at loud noises
  • Has different-sounding cries for different needs

3 to 6 months

  • Notices toys that make sound
  • Babbles repeated sounds such as “babababa”
  • Makes sounds to show that they are happy or upset

6 to 12 months

  • Turns head in response to sounds in their environment and when their name is called
  • Understands words for familiar objects and people, such as “mommy,” “daddy,” “cup,” “milk”
  • Plays games like peek-a-boo and “so big”
  • Responds to simple requests, such as “come here”
  • Imitates simple actions and gestures, such as waving, clapping
  • Uses m, n, b, p, t and d sounds when babbling
  • Uses nonepetitive babbling (“dageedagee”)

12 to 24 months

  • Begins to use many words; should use 200 unique words by 24 months
  • Puts words together, such as “what’s that?” “where kitty?”,“all done,” “no bed”
  • Can follow simple directions, such as “throw the ball”
  • Can point to body parts when asked
  • Points to and labels pictures in a book

24 months to 3 years

  • Understands opposites such as big/little, up/down
  • Talks about objects or people that are not in the room
  • People who know your child can understand them most of the time
  • Can follow two-step directions such as “go get your shoes and put them on”
  • Can answer yes/no questions
  • Uses sentences with three or more words
  • Asks “Why?”
  • By age 3, 90% of children produce p, m, n, h, w sounds in conversation

Risk Factors and Causes of Hearing Loss in Babies and Older Children

For about one-quarter of babies with hearing loss, the cause is unknown. For about half the babies with hearing loss, the cause is genetic and there may be family members who have hearing loss. For about one-third of babies with genetic hearing loss, they may have other conditions, such as Down syndrome or Usher syndrome.

Additional risk factors include:

  • Exposure to infection before birth
  • Premature birth
  • Had complications at birth
  • Stayed five days or more in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or had complications while in the NICU
  • Required a blood transfusion or other procedure to treat jaundice
  • Was given medicine that can cause hearing loss
  • Has frequent ear infections
  • Had other infections that can damage hearing, such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus

Why Choose Norton Children’s ENT & Audiology

  • We offer an integrated, team-based approach to treating childhood hearing loss that includes the viewpoints and expertise of otolaryngologists, audiologists, speech-language pathologists and early interventionists.
  • We have the only fellowship-trained otolaryngologists in the region who specialize in pediatric ear, nose and throat care, and the only board-certified audiologist in Kentucky with a special certification in pediatric audiology from the American Board of Audiology.
  • Speech-language pathologists work with kids one-on-one and with families to maximize their ability to communicate verbally.
  • Two central locations, one in the Novak Center for Children’s Health in downtown Louisville and one in NuLu, as well as remote therapy via telehealth, make it easier to access care for your child.
  • Our providers work closely with Kentucky’s First Steps program to provide early intervention for children with hearing conditions. Listening and spoken language therapy via telehealth may be available at no cost.
  • The aerodigestive clinic brings together specialists in gastroenterology, otolaryngology, pulmonology, speech therapy and nutrition to care for complex airway and swallowing disorders. Patients benefit from multiple opinions, and families can schedule multiple specialist appointments for the same day.
  • Communicate with your child’s provider, renew prescriptions, schedule appointments and more through a free MyNortonChart account.

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