Q: How do I know if my child has hearing problems?

Q: How do I know if my child has hearing problems?

A: Hearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons, including a family history of hearing loss, history of frequent ear infections, head trauma, prematurity, complications at birth, illnesses during pregnancy such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus, or exposure to very loud sounds.

Signs/symptoms of hearing loss in infants include:

Doesn't startle or "jump" to sudden, loud noises. Doesn't respond to a parent's voice by 3 months of age. Doesn't turn his or her eyes or head toward a sound by 6 months of age. Doesn't imitate some sounds or produce a few words, such as "Mama" or "Dada," by 12 months of age.

Signs/symptoms of hearing loss in toddlers include:

Poor, limited or no speech. Frequently seems to be inattentive. Difficulty learning. Increases the TV volume. Fails to respond or answers inappropriately to speech at a normal conversational level.

Even a mild or partial hearing loss can affect a child's ability to speak and understand spoken language. Fortunately, hearing problems can be managed if they are identified early-the earlier the better.

-Krista Winner, AuD, is a pediatric audiologist in the Department of Audiology at Nationwide Children's Hospital.