Does Your Child Need a Hearing Test?
In Ontario there is a Universal Infant Hearing Program (IHP) provided by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. In March of this year the IHP in Ontario received a grade of ‘Good’ from Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) and the Canadian Academy of Audiology.
All infants born in Ontario are screened for hearing loss.
Although there is room for improvement, there was satisfaction with the progress the province has made in the area of detecting hearing loss in children.
Early detection of hearing loss has been cited as being crucial in preventing delays in social, emotional and educational development. A child’s early years are a critical stage in their development of language. Most children are able to hear at birth, but according to the Southwest Region Infant Hearing Program (www.infanthearingprogram.com) one in four babies are born deaf or hard of hearing in Ontario. They also state that the IHP provides:
- Universal newborn hearing screening
- Re-screening of high-risk infants (‘surveillance’)
- Audiological assessment for infants identified with a ‘refer’ result from the screening
- Referral for medical assessment for those identified with a permanent hearing impairment
- Information and support for families (Social Worker/Family Support Worker) for those identified with permanent hearing impairment
- Amplification (i.e. hearing aid) prescription and verification
- Service options to enhance language development
The Canadian Academy of Audiology (www.canadianaudiology.ca) lists certain conditions that can contribute to your child being at a higher risk for hearing loss, including:
- Family history of hearing loss in childhood
- Maternal infections during pregnancy
- Breathing difficulty at birth
- Visible malformations of the head, neck or ears
- Very low birth weight (less than 1500 grams)
- Medications which cause hearing loss
- Other medical conditions associated with hearing loss
- Stay in a special care nursery for longer than 3 days
- Prolonged mechanical ventilation lasting longer than 5 days
It’s recommended that infants have their hearing tested within 3 months of their birth. This guideline should be adhered to even more so if any one of the above conditions is a reality for your child.
In older children they recommend a hearing test if any of the following manifests:
- Parental/caregiver/teacher concern regarding hearing, speech-language and/or developmental delay
- Following meningitis, scarlet fever, mumps or other illnesses associated with high fever
- Head injury with loss of consciousness or skull fracture
- Diagnosis of a medical condition associated with hearing loss or neurodegenerative disorder
- Exposure to medication toxic to the middle ear
- Repeated or constant ear infections
- Trauma to the ear
If empowered with the right tools and knowledge, hearing loss doesn’t have to be an obstacle in your child’s development.