During the early years, when foundational language learning is occurring, it is critical to identify any kind of hearing loss in children. A small hearing loss, even in one ear, is significant due to the adverse impact that hearing loss has on communication skills, learning abilities, psychosocial development and academic achievement. Children who are hard of hearing have much more difficulty learning vocabulary, grammar, word order, idiomatic expressions, and other aspects of verbal communication, than their hearing peers.[i] However, children whose hearing loss is detected early (by 6 months of age) and who receive high-quality intervention services are likely to have language development that is at or near the rate of peers without hearing loss.[ii]
It is estimated that 1 to 6 children per 1,000 are born with congenital hearing loss.[iii] Although most of these children can potentially be identified during infant hearing screening, some congenital hearing loss may not be evident until later in childhood.[iv] Furthermore, several studies have shown that the assumption that hearing loss can be reliably detected based on children’s behavior in everyday situations is faulty and well-child visits may not capture all children who experience hearing problems, emphasizing the need for continuous, periodic monitoring of children’s hearing status through high-quality screening programs.[v]
School age children should be screened periodically through their school years.