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How can ‘hearing’ impact the life of a child?

March 2, 2021

World Hearing day is observed on 3rd March every year to raise awareness on hearing problems and promote hearing health care across the world. (by WHO). The theme for the campaign for 2021 is “Hearing care for all.”

Did you know?

The development of ear and hearing begins even before the child takes birth.

It begins by 3rd week of gestation and continues till the 5th month.

By 5 months of pregnancy, you can start talking/singing to your child!


How is singing/listening to music during pregnancy beneficial?

Singing/ listening to music during pregnancy can have positive effect on the development of foetus- it gives a soothing effect, facilitates neuronal connections in the brain, encourages early development of the foetus and helps in pre-natal bonding.

Caution- Do not play the music too loud!

How important is hearing for a child?

The sense of hearing is the foundation for communication and promotes social interaction. If the child cannot hear, the child will not be able to speak! Hearing is the key to learning spoken language and is essential for the cognitive development of children. 

Hearing loss is a barrier to education and socialization, especially when it goes undetected and untreated.

How early can you identify hearing loss in a child?

Hearing loss can be identified within few hours of birth through new-born hearing screening. By identifying & providing intervention very early in life, children born with hearing loss can develop hearing, speech and language skills appropriate for their age and start their formal education in the same classroom as their typical hearing peers.


What is New-born hearing screening?

New-born hearing screening is a procedure that identifies new-born babies at risk for hearing loss so they can be evaluated and treated early in life. It is performed in the hospital before the baby is discharged. 

  • New-born hearing screening is fast, safe, and painless
  • New-born hearing screening takes about 10 minutes
  • Most babies sleep through the New-born hearing screening
  • Parents will receive the New-born hearing screening report before leaving the hospital.

Why is it important? 

  • Approximately 3-6 of every 1000 new-borns have significant hearing problems
  • More than 95 percent of new-borns who are born deaf have parents with normal hearing 
  • Hearing loss is invisible; it cannot be seen by examining the new-borns outer ears.
  • Most new-borns with hearing loss have no signs or symptoms.
  • When new-borns with hearing loss are diagnosed early, effective intervention is available to help them achieve normal or nearly normal speech, language, and hearing milestones.

What if the new-born passes the hearing screening?

New-borns who pass the screening are usually fine. However, some new-borns may pass the screening, yet they can lose hearing from illness, medications, or genetic reasons—after leaving the hospital. 

Therefore, parents have to be counselled about normal hearing, speech, and language developmental milestones, and they must consult an audiologist/ speech-language pathologist if they suspect hearing loss/ language delay/ speech problems at any time.

What if the new-born does not pass the hearing screening?

When a baby does not pass the hearing screening, it means that more testing is needed. The baby could have hearing loss, and it is important to follow-up. When a baby does not pass the first screening, the audiologist will perform a second screening before sending the baby for detailed audiological testing.

What if the child is diagnosed with hearing loss?

After the detailed audiological testing and diagnosing the child with hearing loss, the Audiologist will provide rehabilitative options for hearing loss, which could be fitting hearing aids/ cochlear implants followed by listening training and speech-language therapy.

Delay in treatment or action can lead to delay in speech and/or language development, social behavioural issues and academic difficulties. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60 per cent of childhood hearing can be prevented. The temporary hearing loss in many children can be restored with medical treatment or minor surgery. If a child has sensorineural hearing loss, it is permanent. However, thanks to the advances in medical science, almost all kinds of hearing impairments can be treated if timely identified. Early intervention remains key for better outcomes.


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