All babies should receive a newborn hearing screen before leaving the hospital. (Estimates show that 2 to 3 of every 1,000 babies are born with some degree of hearing loss.)
Luckily, most babies are born with excellent hearing. A baby who turns when you enter the room or is beginning to coo and make pre-speech sounds probably hears just fine. You can check your baby's hearing in a simple way: When your baby is awake and alert, stand behind him or her and clap your hands behind his or her head. If your baby's hearing is good, you'll see a startle at this loud, sudden noise. Repeat the experiment a couple of times to be sure.
A baby with normal hearing may respond to noise by turning his or her head to find the source of the sound. If your baby doesn't notice you until he or she can see you, it could be a sign that his or her hearing is impaired.
What can cause hearing problems?
Some babies are born with hearing difficulties because of a hereditary problem. A family history of deafness can be a red flag. Other causes include exposure to infections such asrubella (German measles) or CMV (cytomegalovirus) in utero, problems during delivery that compromised the supply of oxygen to the baby, meningitis, hypothyroidism, or prematurity.
Some birth defects also cause deafness. In some cases, a hearing problem is temporary, caused by a cold, a middle ear infection, or a large buildup of earwax. Or the inner ear could be damaged because of an injury, a tumor, or a virus.
What if there's a problem?
If you have any concerns about your baby's hearing, be sure to tell your baby's doctor, who can examine your baby's ears, run hearing tests, or refer you to an audiologist (hearing specialist) or a pediatric ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor), who can do a more in-depth ear examination.
Early diagnosis is important for hearing problems. Hearing loss that goes untreated can cause your baby to have trouble with learning and language development in the future, but early diagnosis and treatment usually leads to normal development of language skills. Treatment for impaired hearing may include a hearing aid, which can be made to fit even a tiny baby. Later, such children may be candidates for a cochlear implant, a device that uses electrodes to process sound, as well as speech therapy.
Always check your baby's hearing from time to time. And of cos stay kamsified!