Over a million kids in the US suffer from some sort of hearing loss. Doctors are calling it a public health issue and a problem massively under diagnosed.
In Maryland, by law every child have a hearing screening at birth, some kids fall through the cracks.
When it comes to hearing loss, most kids are born with a degree of it. Doctor Brian Kaplan is the Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at GBMC. He says some kids can develop it in early childhood. For others there can be a genetic or infectious component.
But, if left untreated it can have a negative effect on a child’s life. In fact, studies show that a child that has hearing loss in even just one ear, is up to 10 times more likely to fail a grade.
Dr. Kaplan says when it comes to hearing issues parents are actually not very good at being able to pick up on it, often times confusing it for behavioral issues.
“The kid was zoning out the kid was hyperactive, the kid had trouble focusing on a task and certainly that could be that child’s behavior but it can also be a sign of hearing loss,” he said.
So what are some other signs to look for, especially in the little ones?
“For the real little ones there often aren’t good signs," Dr. Kaplan said. "The lack of a startled response in a baby, a lack of being able to track and localize to a sound. If the doorbell rings, if a dog barks do they turn their head, but the babies really need to be screened.”
When it comes to helping our kids, education is key. And with kids getting ready to head back to class, both parents and school needs to be on the same page.
“The school system has to be educated as well as the teachers in the classroom to find out specialized programs," Dr. Kaplan said. "How should we seat the child, how should we look at the child when we’re asking them a question? Do we need to repeat the question just to make sure the information got from that teacher to that child with hearing issues?”
Screening is key. Dr. Kaplan says hearing aids help the vast majority of kids with nerve hearing loss and these days they are so small, almost invisible to people. They’ve also become wirelessly connected, you can even connect them to televisions, computers, and your cell phone.