Hearing Loss In Children – How To Determine If A Child Needs A Hearing Aid

Effective hearing is crucial for the development of speech and language. If your child has a hearing loss issue you need to address the problem as soon as possible.

How Common is Hearing Loss in Children?

While data varies, roughly 1.4 babies per 1,000 newborns have a hearing loss. Research from a 2005 National Health Survey conducted by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA indicated five out of every 1,000 children are impacted by hearing loss, with cases being diagnosed between ages 3 and 17.

Unfortunately, hearing loss is becoming more commonplace in yAouth due to the noise in our environment. In 2013, the CDC estimated at least 12.5 percent of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 have suffered permanent damage to their hearing due to excessive noise exposure.

Causes of Childhood Hearing Loss

There are several possible causes for hearing loss in children, whether it’s Congenital (present in an infant at birth) or Acquired. It’s important that parents, caretakers, physicians, teachers and others know the signs of and address hearing loss in children because early hearing loss – especially that which is undiagnosed – can cause significant development and emotional problems for children that have long-lasting effects.

Congenital Hearing Loss

There are various causes of Congenital hearing loss, though they are not always easily identified. There are both non-genetic and genetic factors that might cause hearing loss.

Non-genetic factors that might cause congenital hearing loss include:

  • Birth complications, including the presence of herpes, rubella cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis or another serious infection, lack of oxygen or the requirement of a blood transfusion for some reason.
  • Premature birth. Babies that have a birth weight of less than 3 pounds or that require certain life-sustaining drugs for respiration due to prematurity are at risk for hearing loss.
  • A nervous system or brain disorder.
  • The use of ototoxic medication by the mother during pregnancy. Ototoxic medications are not usually illicit substances – medications like various antibiotics and NSAIDS can potentially cause damage to the auditory nerve or other hearing structures of the fetus.
  • The mother had an infection during pregnancy, including things like toxoplasmosis, cytomegolavirus, herpes simplex or German measles.
  • Maternal diabetes.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse by the mother or smoking during pregnancy.

Non-genetic factors account for only around 25 percent of congenital hearing loss. Experts agree that genetic factors – meaning the hearing loss is hereditary – cause more than 50 percent of all hearing loss in children, whether the loss is present at birth or manifests later in life.

Acquired hearing loss

Children can also be affected by acquired hearing loss, meaning it occurs after birth. There are various causes of acquired hearing loss, including:

  • A perforated eardrum
  • Otosclerosis or Meniere’s diseases, which are progressive
  • Infections like meningitis, measles, mumps or whooping cough
  • Taking ototoxic medications
  • A serious head injury
  • Exposure to loud noise, causing noise-induced hearing loss
  • Untreated or frequent otitis media (ear infections)
  • Exposure to second hand smoke

As stated if your child has a hearing loss issue you need to address the problem as soon as possible. Research has demonstrated that detection and intervention for hearing loss prior to six months of age results in significantly better outcomes than intervention after six months of age. As a result, newborn hearing screening has become universal which has resulted in hearing loss being identified and treated at much younger ages.

How You Can Identify Signs of Hearing Loss in Your Children

Have you noticed a change in your child’s listening abilities? Are they turning the television up louder than usual or saying “What?” a little too loudly and a little too often? If this is the case, your child may need to go for a hearing evaluation. Detecting hearing issues in a child’s speech and language may be more difficult in older children whose speech and language capabilities are already developed.

Here are some of the specific things you can look out for:


  • Your child does not respond when you are speaking to/calling them.
  • When they are watching TV, the volume is too loud.
  • They appear to be reading your lips instead of simply listening to what you’re saying.
  • Your child’s teacher may be complaining that your child does not follow instructions or appear to be listening in class.
  • Your child is speaking louder than before.

Treatments for Childhood Hearing Loss

  • A Hearing Test needs to be conducted by an Audiologist
  • If a child has wax build-up, an ear infection or another problem causing temporary hearing loss, the Audiologist will take care of the problem or refer you to an Ear, Nose And Throat Physician to have the temporary hearing obstruction treated.
  • Depending on the severity and cause of hearing loss in your child, hearing aids, cochlear implants and a combination of speech therapy or assistive listening devices may be the recommended forms of treatment.

It is very important for all parents to know that there has never been more hope for children with hearing loss, even those with profound loss.

Book an Appointment at Tami Mehl Audiology

If you’re concerned your child may be experiencing signs of hearing loss do not delay to schedule an appointment with Tami Mehl Audiology to have your child’s hearing evaluated.

The Audiologists at Tami Mehl Audiology perform in-depth behavioural hearing examinations for even very young children (as young as 6 months) who cannot participate in traditional testing procedures.

They also conduct several objective tests on infants, toddlers and young children which are painless and non-invasive. After the tests, they will discuss your child’s hearing ability with you and recommend appropriate treatment plans or medical interventions.

Tami Mehl has more than 25 years of clinical experience, combined with an honour’s degree in Speech Therapy and Audiology from the University of the Witwatersrand, a Master’s degree in Communication Pathology and Audiology from the University of Pretoria and a Doctorate in Audiology from the University of Florida in the USA.

Tami Mehl Audiology offers you the best in patient-centered care plus the convenience of two practices; one in Illovo and the other in Bedfordview.

Both practices offer friendly staff members, a warm and collaborative atmosphere and, most importantly, a thorough service from Professional Audiologists and support team members.

The Audiologists at both practices are:

  1. Fully qualified with current clinical certificates;
  2. Registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa;
  3. Committed to regular Continuing Education programmes;
  4. Up to date with rapidly changing technology;
  5. Known for uncompromising clinical and ethical standards.

To book an appointment you can contact either the BEDFORDVIEW PRACTICE on 011 622 6314 – which is situated at Suite 10 Bedford Gardens Medical Suites, 3 Bradford Road, Bedford Gardens, Germiston or the ILLOVO PRACTICE on 011 268 0490 – which is situated at Block 1, Oxford Manor, 196 Oxford Rd, Illovo.

Tami Mehl Audiology is about Optimal Hearing and Optimal Balance


I was seen by Tami Mehl at my ripe old age of 85. It is an absolute pleasure to have dealt with someone who is so respectful and caring of us old folks. With her patience and understanding, she walked me through the hearing tests and sorted out the best hearing aids for my lifestyle. I would certainly recommend Tami to all of my friends. I cannot express my gratitude in how the hearing aids have enhanced my lifestyle.

Clive Black