It is important to identify hearing loss as early as possible because babies start learning how to use sound as soon as they are born. Listening in the first months of life prepares babies to speak. These early steps are building blocks for communication.
- Babies start by babbling, using many of the sounds they hear spoken around them
- By their first birthday, babies are already learning what words mean and may be saying a few words
Babies learn to talk by listening to their families talk around them. Imagine that a baby has a hearing loss, but no one knows about it. This can lead to slow development of speech and language, leading to problems in school later in life.
Hospitals regularly screen newborn babies for a number of conditions, such as genetic disorders. Hearing loss is more common than any other problems or conditions that are screened for at birth. About one to three babies out of every 1,000 will be born with a permanent hearing loss.