March 23rd, 2017 | Ask an Audiologist | by Stephanie Loder

Ask an Audiologist: Is 8 Weeks Too Young for My Baby to Wear Hearing Aids?

Should babies wear hearing aids?

What do the hearing health experts say?

Early intervention has been identified as key to a child’s speech, language, academic, social and emotional development.

Under Ontario’s Infant Hearing Program (IHP), babies are screened for hearing loss – usually in the hospital – shortly after birth. As outlined in the province’s Newborn Hearing Screening guidelines, the program is designed to:

  • Identify infants with hearing loss shortly after birth
  • Ensure the necessary services and support for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, which allows families to make informed decisions about hearing technology – like hearing aids, signed or manual languages (e.g., American Sign Language) and other communication development strategies. These services will ensure there’s support for the development of language and early literacy, so children are ready for school.
  • Monitor babies who are at risk for early childhood hearing loss

But is there an age that’s too young for hearing aids?

Read what our Hearing Solutions Audiology expert had to say to one concerned parent.

Ask an Audiologist

My 8-week old son has been diagnosed with normal to mild hearing loss in his left ear and mild hearing loss in his right ear. At this stage would you put hearing aids on a baby or wait until their 8 to12 month test?

Audiologist Response

Thank you for your submission to Ask an Audiologist.

To give you a definitive answer on whether or not to put hearing aids on your son, an Audiologist would need to complete a full hearing assessment and evaluation of his communication needs. However, I am happy to give you some general information based on your question.

There are many factors that influence a decision to begin treatment with hearing aids, such as the type of hearing loss, whether it’s permanent or temporary, as well as your son’s overall health and development. It may be recommended to aid only one or both ears depending on how many frequencies (pitches) have normal hearing in the better ear. Each province in Canada has its own guidelines for child amplification, such as the Infant Hearing Program (IHP) of Ontario. In case your son is a resident of Ontario, there is some helpful information available here regarding communication development planning.

My opinion is that if there is hearing loss, and amplification is appropriate, wearing a hearing aid on the worse ear as soon as possible would be ideal for your son’s speech and language development. As per the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Programs from the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) a “1-3-6” guideline is suggested for a child with permanent hearing loss – screening by 1 month of age, diagnosis by 3 months of age, and treatment by 6 months of age.  It sounds to me like you’re on the right track in being proactive about your son’s hearing health. I recommend that you discuss this with your son’s Audiologist and his family doctor to learn more about your options before his next test at 8-12 months.

I hope that this information is helpful to you. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any further questions.

Best,

Stephanie Loder, B.Sc., M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO Audiologist, Aud(C)

Stephanie is a registered Audiologist with the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario. Stephanie currently sees patients at Hearing Solutions’ Carlingwood Shopping Centre location in Ottawa.

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