In the run-up to labour and the actual birth, there are a million concerns running through the parents’ minds. Once the baby is born, and the doctor confirms that there are ten fingers and toes and the baby is breathing, is when the parents can finally heave a sigh of relief. However, if you ask experienced parents, they will let you know – and kindly, too – that your concerns are only beginning!
Hearing impairment continues to be a common birth defect even today. If you gave birth in a hospital, one of the tests that will be performed on your baby before you are discharged is a screening for the baby’s hearing capacities. If you choose to or have had to give birth elsewhere, please do consider getting the screening for hearing done within three weeks of birth. If your baby does not pass the hearing test at first go, do understand that your medical team will not be telling you that your baby has impaired hearing. Instead, they will suggest that you get another test done in the next three months of the baby’s life. Hearing capacities in babies are critical as they rely on this sense to understand their world.
What Can Cause Hearing Loss In A Newborn?
Hearing impairment can be caused by a multitude of factors, including but not restricted to:
- History of hearing impairment in the family.
- Pre-mature birth.
- Low birth weight.
- Impaired inner ear development.
- Viral infection in the mother during the pregnancy, or in the baby after birth.
- An extended stay in the neo-natal unit.
Signs Indicating Potential Hearing Loss According To Age
Even if the baby clears the hearing test at the hospital, it is advisable to check its hearing during regular check-ups with your doctor. We have put together a rough guide to help you understand if your baby is showing any signs of having or developing a hearing problem at various stages of its infancy.
Newborn To 3 Months
Watch out for:
- Lack of a startled response to loud sounds.
- Lack of response towards sounds such as music.
- Lack of response to soothing sounds when disturbed or upset. Don’t rush to conclusions on this one, though!
- Does not try to form personal sounds of its own, or doesn’t recognise familiar voices by the age of 2 months.
4 To 8 Months
Watch out for:
- Lack of head and eye movements towards sounds.
- Lack of change in expression in response to sounds – whether pleasing or disturbing.
- No attempts to imitate sounds.
- Only responds to sounds that can be felt or seen, such as a toy with lights.
- Does not make sounds when playing or noticing objects and people.
9 To 12 Months
Watch out for:
- Does not respond to sounds like disciplining actions.
- Does not try to move towards sounds.
- Lack of pitch variation in attempts to form words.
- Lack of response to being spoken to or being played with.
- Does not attempt to sing along or respond to voices.
- Lack of response to now-familiar expressions such as ”Hello!”,“Ta ta”, etc.
- No attempts to say “mama” and “papa”
Do understand that this is an indicative list of warning signs that parents can use to track hearing impairments in their babies, but this list is by no means diagnostic. Your baby could be a sound sleeper or a generally good-natured baby overall, and hence does not create a ruckus or get startled by certain sounds.
For example, if your baby is colicky and does not responding to soothing sounds or soft music, this can be considered quite normal, unless accompanied by other concerns you are observing.
At every stage mentioned here, you will have to consult the baby’s doctor with whom you can discuss your observations. Be rest assured that your doctor will know what to do and how to take care of your baby.