Hearing Loss in Children

Hearing loss in children can be congenital or may develop after birth. Hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop language and social skills. Approximately 50% of hearing loss in babies is caused by a genetic causes. Viral infections, problems at birth, prematurity, meningitis and ear infections are a few of the non-genetic causes of hearing loss in children.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children

There may be no obvious signs of hearing loss early on in a child’s life. Some parents note failure to blink or startle at loud noises, failure to turn the head toward familiar sounds, greater responsiveness to loud noises than to voices and the consistent ability of the child to sleep through loud noises. Lack of the use of voice such as a failure to babble, coo or squeal, and monotonal babbling can be observed. In the toddler years, speech delay is the most common symptom of hearing loss. Lack of interest in music, word games, loud voice use, shrieking, behavior problems and temper tantrums may also occur. Older children can often begin to complain and report a hearing loss, but most are unable to. Hearing loss can manifest by poor schoolwork, inattention and inappropriate responses to questions.


Newborn hearing screening is the standard of care in most hospitals in the Unites States of America. No baby is too young to be tested for hearing loss. Follow-up testing is required if a baby fails the newborn screen and can be performed at Ear Associates. Hearing loss can be diagnosed with auditory brainstem response testing, auditory steady state response testing, and otoacoustic emission testing. These tests can be performed in our office during natural sleep or under mild sedation within the first year of life. Behavioral testing can begin around 1 year of age, or when a baby has developed adequate head control. Hearing testing in a sound booth is adapted to the age and development of the child. Babies and children of all ages suspected of having or diagnosed with hearing loss are also evaluated by one of our medical doctors who are experienced in the diagnosis and management of pediatric hearing loss. As in adults, the hearing loss can be sensorineural, conductive or mixed and can be related to problems in the outer, middle or inner ear.


Children with a hearing loss can be helped. Early diagnosis and intervention are paramount to the child’s language, academic and social development. At Ear Associates, specialty doctors, audiologists and hearing aid professionals can evaluate your child and ensure the proper selection and fit of hearing aids. Our care includes counseling, close observation, follow-up evaluations, and communication with school professionals to optimize progress. We also specialize in implantable devices including bone conduction devices and cochlear implants and we will counsel you with regards to the optimal decisions for your child’s hearing health.