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Hearing Loss in Babies and Young Children

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Hearing Loss in Babies and Young Children

Hearing loss left untreated in babies and young children can have a negative impact on the development of their vital speech and listening skills, inhibiting their ability to cope with school and work in the long-term. As your baby grows, it is important to observe the way they interact with you and other close family members, to be sure that they are developing their full capacity to listen and interpret sounds and be able to respond competently on cue.

The most prevalent cause of hearing loss in children is dysfunction of the Eustachian tube (recommend including diagram to show this process), which is the tube that connects the nose to the ear. Eustachian tube dysfunction can affect up to 30% of children during the winter period. This type of hearing loss can arise from a head cold, however, more serious problems such as fluid in the middle ear, or the more complex otitis media (otherwise known as ‘glue ear’) can develop, involving bacteria or a virus infecting the middle ear or eardrum. Hearing loss resulting from a middle ear problem is a conductive hearing loss and if medically treated, is usually temporary in nature.

Sometimes children can be born with permanent hearing loss, which is called sensorineural hearing loss. Other factors which may cause hearing loss are:

  • craniofacial anomalies.
  • family history of hearing loss.
  • congenital infections.
  • bacterial meningitis.
  • head trauma.
  • ototoxic medications – medications which are toxic to the organs of hearing or balance or to the auditory nerve.
  • childhood infectious diseases, such as mumps and measles.


Your baby can recognise you and your partner’s voice, and is soothed by a calm voice or lullabies. They can be startled by sharp or loud noises.

3 months

Your baby will be more receptive to hearing and language. They may look at you directly and gurgle (attempted communication) when they hear your voice.

4 months

Your baby can react excitedly to sounds, and may even smile when they hear your voice. They may also watch your mouth and try to copy you, voicing some consonants including g, k p, b and m, and some vowel sounds.

6 months

Your baby will be able to recognise where sounds are coming from, and turn rapidly towards new sounds . Their babbling may start to sound more like words.

9 months

Your baby now understands that words and gestures have a connection.

12 months

Your baby will be able to recognise songs they love and will try to sing along. They are now understanding and speaking simple words.


Common indicators of hearing loss in babies and young children may include:

  • your baby or young child not responding when you speak to them.
  • turning their head in multiple directions to hear.
  • your child asking to repeat yourself often.
  • difficulty distinguishing voices when multiple people are in conversation.
  • difficulty forming words and sentences.
  • straining to hear short or soft noises.
  • struggling with school work.


If you think your baby or young child may be experiencing hearing loss, call Neurosensory on 1300 965 513

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