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How Will I Know if My Child Has Trouble Hearing?

Article Translations: (Spanish)

My husband has had a hearing loss since he was a child. How will I know if our baby also has a hearing problem?

Hearing loss can run in families. Your baby's doctor will monitor your little one’s hearing closely. If there is a hearing problem, treatment should begin as soon as possible.

In most states, newborns get a hearing screening before going home. If it's not done then, or a baby was born at home or a birthing center, it's important to check their hearing within the first 3 weeks of life.

A baby who doesn't pass a hearing screen doesn't necessarily have a hearing loss. A repeat hearing test should be done by 3 months of age. If it confirms a hearing problem, doctors recommend starting treatment before 6 months.

Even newborns who pass their initial hearing screening should be watched for signs that they might not be hearing well. Children with hearing loss won’t respond to sounds or their language development may be slow. Hearing milestones in the first year of life include:

  • Most newborns startle or "jump" to sudden loud noises.
  • By 3 months, a baby recognizes and calms to a parent's voice.
  • By 6 months, babies turn their eyes or head toward a new sound and repeat sounds.
  • By 12 months, babies make babbling sounds, responds to their name, imitate words, and may say a few words, such as "Mama" or "bye-bye."

Children may be at higher risk for hearing loss if they:

  • were born early
  • stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
  • got medicines that can lead to hearing loss
  • had complications at birth
  • get a lot of ear infections
  • had infections that can damage hearing, such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus

Your doctor will check your child's hearing at regular checkups. Hearing tests begin when kids are 4 years old. If you have any concerns about your baby's hearing, talk with your doctor.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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