Catch hearing problems early in babies

If you have ever been around a toddler learning to talk, you know it’s a joy to watch them form words and sentences, and develop a way to express their thoughts in ways more complex than crying, laughing, smiling and pouting.

And at that age, they are like little sponges. What they hear, they say -- which for Mom and Dad can sometimes be a scary reflection on their own language.

But what if they can’t hear? The child’s language development really depends on the ability to hear.

One baby in a thousand is born profoundly deaf. Another two to three are born with partial hearing loss. Hearing loss is the No. 1 birth defect in America. Many studies have shown that early diagnosis of hearing loss is crucial to the development of speech, language, cognitive, and psychosocial abilities. Treatment is most successful if hearing loss is identified early, preferably within the first month of life. That's why 39 states require some type of hearing test before the baby leaves the hospital.

Sometimes, hearing problems develop after the infant leaves the hospital. Here are some things to watch for:

  • Not reacting in any way to unexpected loud noises
  • Not being awakened by loud noises
  • Not turning his/her head in the direction of your voice
  • Not being able to follow or understand directions
  • Poor language development