The two main types of hearing loss are sensorineural and conductive. Both types of hearing loss can be present at birth, or they can develop later in life.
Hearing Loss in Babies
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nearly 12,000 babies are born each year in the United States with a permanent hearing impairment. It is estimated that serious hearing loss occurs in about one to three of every 1,000 healthy newborns, and in two to four of every 100 babies in newborn intensive care units. Without hearing testing, significant hearing loss may not be noticed until the baby is over one year of age. Profound deafness is often not recognized until 18 to 24 months of age. Lesser degrees of hearing loss may not be recognized until 3 to 6 years of age. Although these children are not meeting normal developmental milestones, this situation is often unrecognized or attributed to other causes. To help identify hearing loss in the early years of life, many states have implemented universal infant hearing screening of all children prior to discharge from the newborn nursery.
The sooner hearing loss is identified and treated, the less likely there will be a significant impact on development of language. Studies indicate that intervention by 6 months of age is very beneficial in terms of prevention of language delays in early childhood.
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