When Should A Child Be Referred For A Hearing Test?

Hopefully your child was born at a hospital that had newborn hearing screening available and testing would be done as a routine check in the newborn period. If not, or if you have concerns about your child’s responses to sound, these are some conditions that suggest a child might be at risk for hearing loss:

  • family history of hearing loss in childhood
  • maternal infections during pregnancy
  • breathing difficulty at birth
  • visible malformations of the head, neck or ears
  • very low birth weight (less than 1500 grams)
  • meningitis
  • jaundice
  • medications which cause hearing loss
  • other medical conditions associated with hearing loss
  • stay in a special care nursery for longer than 3 days
  • prolonged mechanical ventilation lasting longer than 5 days

If your child comes under one of these categories, they should have their hearing tested before one month of age. When there is concern about potential hearing loss, ideally hearing testing should start within the first month of birth, with diagnosis confirmed by three months to facilitate early intervention by 6 months of age.

For older children, a referral should be made for a hearing test as soon as one of the following conditions arises:

  • parental/caregiver/teacher concern regarding hearing, speech-language and/or developmental delay
  • following meningitis, scarlet fever, mumps or other illnesses associated with high fever
  • head injury with loss of consciousness or skull fracture
  • diagnosis of a medical condition associated with hearing loss or neurodegenerative disorder
  • exposure to medication toxic to the middle ear
  • repeated or constant ear infections
  • trauma to the ear