About Infant Hearing Loss
Hearing is perhaps our first sense. Babies are bathed in the sound of the rhythms and melodies of their mother’s language even in the womb, months before birth. And infants’ brains are brilliantly designed to master the complexities of language by sheer immersion in sound within just a few years.
Infant hearing loss is surprisingly common. Of every 1,000 children born in the United States, between two and four will have a hearing loss, and 90 percent of all children with hearing loss are born to hearing parents. Until recently, children were often 2 years old before their hearing loss was diagnosed. Now, by using tests that directly measure brain activity, doctors can identify hearing loss even in infants just days old.
For infants who are deaf or hard of hearing, early intervention makes all the difference. Infants don’t talk – but they do listen and learn. A newborn’s brain, including the auditory brain where sound is processed, grows new neurons and pathways by the billion in the months after birth. Long before a child is actually speaking – the critical period seems to be the first six months – the auditory brain is busily building the language centers the child will need for life.
Today, thanks to new mandatory infant hearing screening in most states, continually improving hearing technologies and early intervention at auditory/oral centers like Clarke, children who are deaf or hard of hearing are learning to listen, talk and thrive in ways that were not thought possible just a few years ago.
It goes way beyond just learning to speak. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing can read, sing, tell jokes and stories, create art, enjoy music and learn about the world around them, just like their hearing peers. There are no limits for children with hearing loss, and Clarke is committed to helping these children reach their full potential. Our goal is to provide parents with the tools they need to understand their child’s hearing loss, make informed choices about educational options and find the path that is right for their family.