The human body is uniquely resilient and adaptable, able to overcome debilitating infections, viruses, bacteria, and congenital difficulties — and that includes hearing loss, thankfully. A bevy of recent studies suggests that our children may not be getting all of the quality hearing care that they truly need to be successful academically, socially, and professionally. Yet with all the developmental difficulties associated with pediatric hearing loss, catching hearing loss very early on will usually equate to leading a normal life.
For instance, a recent study from the University of Southampton found that teenagers who had been identified as deaf by the time they were nine months old had much better language skills than children who had not been screened. This new study illustrates the longer-term benefits of early hearing loss detection: If deaf children who receive proper testing and treatment could develop their language and reading abilities, why couldn’t children with other, less severe forms of hearing loss?
When should children have their hearing tested?
Most children receive their first hearing screening shortly after birth. All states have implemented newborn hearing screenings into hospitals and birthing clinics. And though most screenings happen before a newborn is discharged, it is important to continue with regular hearing screenings throughout childhood. Like most health maladies, the effects of hearing loss are easier to manage when the diagnosis happens early.
School screenings were recently examined in a Penn State College of Medicine study, and the results suggested that some state-mandated hearing screenings often miss high-frequency hearing loss, which is common in individuals affected by loud noise. Nearly one in five teens now has at least a mild hearing loss; students with mild hearing loss are more likely to repeat a grade and suffer an estimated lifetime loss of income between $220,000 and $440,000.
Hearing losses of all types can affect children of all ages. Scheduling hearing evaluations at regular intervals can help you keep up with your child’s hearing health and catch any nuances or changes in their hearing — even if they seem to have normal hearing. The typical schedule for children’s hearing tests consists of screenings at ages 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18, but please feel free to speak to one of our hearing care professionals for help creating a care plan for your child.