Permanent childhood hearing loss can be congenital, delayed-onset, progressive or acquired in nature. Congenital hearing loss refers to hearing loss that is present at birth and is often identified through a newborn hearing screening shortly after birth. Because hearing loss in childhood is often delayed-onset or progressive in nature, it is important to provide audiologic monitoring over time for children who are considered to be "at risk" for hearing loss. It is also important to note that some mild hearing losses will not be identified through newborn hearing screening due to the current limitations of the test equipment.
Hearing is critical to speech and language development, communication and learning. Early identification and intervention of hearing loss can lessen the impact on a child's development. The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH, 2007) recommends all children be screened for hearing loss by one month of age, that hearing and medical evaluations be completed by 3 months of age and that for infants with confirmed hearing loss early intervention services begin by 6 months of age.
Family Centered Practice
Families should be actively involved in the assessment process to the extent they desire and to the extent feasible given the nature of the audiologic test procedure. The audiologist must engage the family in the case history and testing session(s), and the family must fully participate in deciding on intervention strategies. The family's rights (including informed consent and confidentiality issues), reasonable expectations, reasonable needs, and preferences are paramount and must be considered.
This content is limited to the diagnosis and management of permanent hearing loss for children from birth through 5 years of age. Resources for hearing loss for preschool and adult populations are under development.