Throughout your child’s early years, their hearing will be regularly reviewed.
When is your child’s hearing checked?
All babies in the UK are offered a newborn hearing screen. This is to help identify babies who have a permanent hearing loss. It’s completed either at home or in hospital depending on your area. The results are recorded in your child’s personal child health record (Red Book).
Your public health nurse (health visitor) will then continue to review your child’s hearing during developmental reviews and will refer for further tests if necessary.
When children start school, their hearing is checked again. You’ll be notified by the school when this is going to happen, usually at the start of the school year. Tests are carried out in school during school time.
How can you tell if your child could have a hearing problem?
You may be concerned that your child has hearing problems, for example if they:
- show inattentiveness or poor concentration
- don’t respond when their name is called
- talk loudly and listen to the television at a high volume
- have difficulty pinpointing where a sound is coming from
- mispronounce words
- start to show a change in their progress at school
Possible causes of hearing loss
Some possible causes of hearing loss that may be detected during routine tests include:
- glue ear – a build-up of fluid in the middle ear, which is common in young children
- infections that develop in the womb or at birth, such as rubella or cytomegalovirus, which can cause progressive hearing loss
- inherited conditions, such as otosclerosis, which stop the ears or nerves from working properly
- damage to the cochlea or auditory nerves (which transmit hearing signals to the brain); this could be caused by a severe head injury, exposure to loud noise or head surgery, for example
- being starved of oxygen at birth (birth asphyxia)
- illnesses such as meningitis and encephalitis (which both involve swelling in the brain)
If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, you can request a test at any time. To arrange a hearing test you can either:
- Speak to your GP
- Speak to your public health nurse (health visitor)
- Speak to any other healthcare professional involved in your family’s care
- Speak to your child’s teacher or the school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)
- Contact your local Audiology department