Do you know that a baby starts hearing while still a foetus in the mother’s womb? It is crucial to understand that speech and hearing are intricately interconnected in children. Actually, the first few years are crucial to development of communication skills in babies. Children learn and develop their speaking skills by copying those around them. If they can’t hear properly, they won’t learn to speak properly either. Therefore, if a newborn baby or a toddler suffers from any kind of hearing impairment, it can have a drastic and long lasting negative impact on their speech and communication skills for an entire lifetime. Ergo! You need to ensure that your baby’s hearing is in good shape at the earliest
- Family history of deafness.
- Infection: congenital (eg, rubella), mumps, meningitis.
- Ototoxic medications: in utero or postnatal.
- Low birth weight, prematurity, low birth Apgar scores, prolonged mechanical ventilation.
- Craniofacial anomalies or any syndrome associated with sensorineural hearing loss.
- Severe neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia.
- Head injury.
- Neurodegenerative disorders.
- Concern about hearing, speech, language or developmental delay.
The imperative first step is to assess the child’s hearing and pinpoint the condition that’s responsible for its loss. If the cause is treatable through surgical intervention, the ENT surgeon undertakes it. For example, if the deafness is due to a condition called the secretory otitis media, the surgeon will conduct a surgery called myringotomy grommet to restore hearing.
On the other hand, if the underlying condition is incurable, rehabilitation is the next step that needs to be taken at the earliest. First, hearing assessments are carried out and then based on the result, hearing aids may be prescribed. Hearing aids amplify the sounds around the child to make him or her hear what they have been missing and thus provide the stimuli to their growth as well as speech and language development.