Your Baby & Toddler - - Your 12 Months Baby - BY KERRYN MASSYN

Be­lieve it or not, your baby has been hear­ing things since be­fore she was born. In fact, your baby has been re­spond­ing to the sound of your voice with an in­creased heart rate from the third trimester. Around one month of age, your baby is al­ready able to tell the dif­fer­ence between cer­tain sounds, like “ba” and “da”, and by the age of six months she is able to recog­nise and re­spond to her own name. But just be­cause your baby was prob­a­bly born with a pair of ears in per­fect work­ing or­der, doesn’t mean those lit­tle or­gans don’t need tak­ing care of. Hear­ing tests, ear in­fec­tions and pro­tec­tive mea­sures all form a part of her first year.


In a 2012 pa­per by Dr Iain But­ler pub­lished in Con­tin­u­ing Med­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion, hear­ing loss is iden­ti­fied as the most com­mon birth de­fect af­fect­ing new­born ba­bies across the world. He es­ti­mates that about 6 000 ba­bies are born in South Africa each year with hear­ing loss, and says that this num­ber in­creases through­out early child­hood as a

Is your baby hear­ing ev­ery­thing she needs to?

re­sult of in­fec­tions or other causes. This is why hear­ing tests are nec­es­sary.

“Hear­ing tests are vi­tally im­por­tant in or­der to pro­mote early in­ter­ven­tion for hear­ing loss,” says Mandy van den Berg, an au­di­ol­o­gist at Jo­han­nes­burg’s Flora Clinic. She goes on to ex­plain that the sooner any hear­ing loss is iden­ti­fied, the sooner ac­tion can be taken. This is very im­por­tant as hear­ing loss can lead to de­lays in speech and lan­guage devel­op­ment, and can lead to dif­fi­cul­ties at school later on, es­pe­cially where in­tel­lec­tual and so­cio-emo­tional devel­op­ment is con­cerned. “If a hear­ing loss is iden­ti­fied, and ap­pro­pri­ate man­age­ment (hear­ing aids or cochlear im­plant) put in place be­fore six months of age, your child has the au­di­tory ca­pac­ity to de­velop nor­mal speech and lan­guage,” she adds. How­ever, too many chil­dren are di­ag­nosed with hear­ing im­pair­ment later in life, which is of­ten too late for these core skills to take root.

Your baby’s first hear­ing test should take place in hospi­tal shortly af­ter birth. It’s a quick test that your baby doesn’t even feel. It’s of­ten done when your baby is sleep­ing and the re­sults show whether all the struc­tures that your baby needs to hear well are present and in work­ing or­der.

“The next test should be done at around 12 months of age, at an au­di­ol­o­gist’s of­fice in a sound­proof booth,” says Mandy. “Although the test done at birth told us about baby’s hear­ing or­gans, in most cases the au­di­tory nerve is not tested at this time. This is what makes this sec­ond test so vi­tal. At the one-year test, the au­di­tory nerve and the way in which the brain pro­cesses sound is tested. Best of all, you can see your baby’s re­ac­tion to re­ally soft sound in­puts. Un­less you notice any fur­ther change in our child’s hear­ing, it is safe to leave the next hear­ing test un­til when they go to school.”


Sound is a del­i­cate sense and hear­ing loss can oc­cur quite eas­ily. “The idea of hear­ing loss may bring up an image of a grand­par­ent, but our ac­tions as adults, teenagers or even younger im­pact how well we hear (or don’t hear) later on,”

ex­plains Mandy. “What’s tricky about noise-in­duced hear­ing loss is that it can hap­pen grad­u­ally and of­ten has no symp­toms. Yet, once there is dam­age it’s too late – hear­ing doesn’t come back. About five mil­lion chil­dren world­wide have noise-in­duced hear­ing loss or dam­age as a re­sult of loud sounds, most of which is en­tirely pre­ventable.” She sug­gests the fol­low­ing pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures to pro­tect those tiny ears:

Be care­ful of noisy toys Have a look at the an­nual Sight & Hear­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s Noisy Toys Study (at sigh­tand­hear­ Ser­vices/noisy­toys­list) to see if any of the prod­ucts listed are in your baby’s toy box. Use hear­ing pro­tec­tors when mow­ing the lawn or at a concert For ba­bies and kids, this is a no-brainer. Ear muffs are best, and for older chil­dren you can use ear plugs. When us­ing ear­phones, turn it down Ear buds have af­fected hear­ing in a real way – and not a pos­i­tive one. We have no con­trol over how loud our chil­dren are putting the sound on the phone or ipad. Noise-can­celling head­phones are of­ten a good idea, as kids won’t need to turn the vol­ume up to drown out out­side noise. Teach your older chil­dren that noise

to­day im­pacts their hear­ing later Noi­sein­duced hear­ing loss doesn’t oc­cur overnight. What they do now may keep them from need­ing hear­ing aids at all or need­ing them ear­lier than ex­pected.


Watch­ing your baby to see how she re­sponds to sounds is prob­a­bly the eas­i­est way to spot a prob­lem. “If by 6 months of age your baby doesn’t turn her head to­wards a sound or is not soothed by your voice when she can’t see you, it is a good idea to have her hear­ing tested. An­other ma­jor fac­tor is de­layed speech – if your baby is not start­ing to bab­ble by around nine months of age, or if she screeches in a mo­not­o­nous way in­stead of us­ing ‘baby talk’, all may not be well.” She adds that a com­plaint of ring­ing in the ears should set alarm bells off, as it of­ten in­di­cate hair cell dam­age in the cochleas.

If you’re wor­ried by any­thing it’s best to have it checked out by your baby’s pae­di­a­tri­cian or an au­di­ol­o­gist sooner rather than later.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.