If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’re probably an adept lullaby singer by now, unleashing your inner Frank Sinatra every night as you rock your baby to sleep. With time, you may have discovered elements and motions that soothe your baby. For most little ones, these elements are composed of gentle music or sounds, rhythmic cradling and skin-to-skin contact. Of course, every baby is different and yours may respond to some stimuli more than others. Still, sound plays a pivotal role in every baby’s life, and it’s important that you monitor your child’s responses to a range of sounds. Early hearing problems can typically be addressed with timely treatment. If your baby isn’t responding the way you’d expect to your off-tune rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, your vocal skills likely aren’t the only reason.
Causes of Infant Hearing Anomalies
Middle ear infection is a common contributor to infant hearing problems. Causes of ear infection include fluid collection behind the eardrum and its subsequent infection. In some severe cases, this can lead to permanent hearing impairment. Some babies are born with hearing disorders connected to hampered development in the womb, particularly if the mother developed a condition such as diabetes or preeclampsia during pregnancy.
Preventive Measures for Infant Hearing Anomalies
The majority of babies born with hearing loss are born to parents with normal auditory faculties. If you’re yet to have a baby and worry about milestones related to speech and hearing, a newborn hearing test can put your worries to rest. On Cloudnine, our newborn hearing test is a crucial pillar in determining your newborn’s auditory perception. Hearing loss or impairment can vary in gravity from baby to baby, but determining an anomaly early on can help you seek immediate counsel from your paediatrician about the way forward.
Warning Signs to Watch For
Telltale signs of a compromised aural faculty may be spread over a wide spectrum, and may evolve as your child grows. However, age-specific indicators are usually universal. Here is a look at the most common warning signs of hearing loss in children.
Zero Months to 3 Months
- Is not unsettled by a loud or sudden sound
- Is not responsive to voices, noises or music
- Is not calmed or put at ease by mellow sounds
- Is not awakened by noises in the vicinity
- Does not hush at the sound of familiar voices by the 2 month mark
- Does not make vowel sounds like ‘aah’ and ‘ooh’ by the 2 month mark
4 Months to 8 Months
- Does not turn towards sounds that are beyond her visual range
- Does not display a change of expression at the sound of an approaching voice or sound whilst in a quiet environment
- Is not inclined towards sound-inducing toys such as rattles, bells or rubber horns
- Does not mimic sounds by the 6 month mark
- Does not murmur to herself or in response to others who talk to her
- Does not recognise a change of tone and negative intonations like ‘no’
- Demonstrates selective reception towards some sounds
- Is responsive to tactile stimuli such as vibrations and skin-to-skin contact, but not as much to auditory stimuli
9 Months to 12 Months
- Is directionally unresponsive to sounds
- Is unresponsive to her name
- Babbles in a monotone, with little or no intonation
- Does not include consonants like m, n, j, k, while babbling
- Does not react to music, either by listening or rocking along
- Does not say basic words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ by the 1 year mark
- Does not begin words with consonants by the 1 year mark
- Does not recognise basic household words and expressions
Treatments for Infant Hearing Anomalies
Treated early, a baby with hearing loss has an equal chance of reaching speech and language milestones as a child with normal hearing. The treatment plan prescribed by your doctor will usually hinge on the degree of hearing loss in your child.
Your paediatrician may advise you to wait before prescribing a treatment because in some cases, hearing may be restored on its own over time.
As far as medication goes, your paediatrician may recommend antibiotics or other suitable medication for your child.
If the problem persists, your child may be advised ear tubes. These are lightweight tubes that drain excess fluid collected near your child’s eardrum; these may be helpful in preventing infections and are installed through a minor surgery.
In a section of cases that are more serious, a doctor may deem it necessary to fit a child with hearing aids. Babies as young as one month old can begin using hearing aids, and your doctor will ensure that a suitable age-specific device is given to your child.
If hearing aids do not demonstrate adequate results, your doctor may recommend cochlear implants for your baby. These are tiny electronic devices that sit inside the inner ear and promote hearing. These are typically reserved for cases of extreme hearing loss.
Recognising a hearing anomaly in your baby can be the first step towards seeking an effective treatment plan for her. Book a consultation with a paediatrician on Cloudnine if you spot any of these telltale signs. We’ll be waiting to hear you out.