December 25th, 2013 | General | by Andreas Seelisch

How Can You Tell If Your Baby Is Deaf?

Although hearing loss is certainly common in later stages of life, it can also occur during infancy. Some babies experience hearing loss at birth that can get worse over time if not treated immediately. The loss can happen in one ear or even both. But if the loss is serious, an audiologist may ultimately confirm that the baby is deaf. Although relatively uncommon, there are certain risk factors that can trigger infant hearing loss. These factors include low birth weight and a history of hearing loss within you or your partner’s family.

To recognize the signs of hearing loss in babies, it’s important to understand why this loss occurs. A birth defect can trigger changes in the actual structure of the ear canal and/or middle ear. There could also be a buildup of hardened ear wax, or excess fluid deep behind the eardrum. Exposure to alcohol or other toxins while the baby is in the womb can also damage nerve endings in the inner ear.

If you think your baby may be suffering from hearing loss, pay close attention to your child’s behaviour. Babies tend to startle easily when there are loud noises nearby. But if your baby remains calm despite these distractions, there is a chance that he/she does not hear these noises and is therefore unaffected. Also, the mimicking of sounds is a natural stage in child development. If your baby does not engage in this, it could be a sign that he/she is not able to mimic noises because the child cannot hear them in the first place.

As your baby gets older, you may notice that the child does not become alert when spoken to. As children age, they become attached to certain voices — such as those belonging to mom and dad. If he/she does not perk up when spoken to by family members, the issue should be looked into further. Also, good hearing is a crucial component of speech development. So if your child is not speaking in sentences by an appropriate age, chances are he/she could be suffering from early hearing loss.

Speak to your family doctor if you believe your baby may be suffering from hearing loss. Your child can enjoy the same quality of life as other children if the diagnosis is made early and effective solutions are implemented quickly. If you’re not yet pregnant but your family has a history of hearing loss, speak to your doctor before conception. There are no definitive ways to prevent hearing deficiencies in babies — but genetic counselling is available beforehand to help minimize its effects.

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