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Children's Health

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Screening for Hearing Problems - Topic Overview


Some hearing problems can delay your child's speech and language development. Early screening for hearing loss can help prevent many learning, social, and emotional problems that can be related to speech and language development.1

Call your doctor if at any time you suspect your child has a hearing problem, such as if your baby does not seem to respond to loud noises or your young child is not making sounds or talking at the expected ages.

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The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all newborns be screened for hearing loss.2 Many states require newborn hearing tests for all babies born in hospitals. Talk to your doctor about whether your child has been or should be tested. Even if the newborn test did not show hearing loss, hearing problems could arise.

In most hearing tests, your child responds to how well he or she hears a series of tones or words (subjective testing). Hearing is also tested by examining your child's ears or by using an instrument to measure how the ears react to sound (objective testing). In objective testing, your child is not asked to respond to sounds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends objective hearing testing for all newborns. Objective hearing tests are also recommended for all children at ages 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10.3

Hearing tests may be a part of well-child appointments.


Gradual hearing loss can affect people of all ages. You may not be aware of it, especially if it has happened over time. Your family members or friends may notice that you're having trouble understanding what others are saying. If you have concerns about your hearing, talk to your doctor during routine visits.

For more information, see the topics Hearing Tests and Hearing Loss.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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