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Hearing Health in Babies and Children

20/07/2015

Most children in Australia will get ear infections a few times in their childhood.  Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will get middle ear infections too, but they often start younger, last longer and come back more often.

An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child in Australia may have ear infections and trouble hearing for almost 3 years of their childhood and school years in total.  A non-Indigenous child will have this problem for only 2-3 months!
The first three years of life are critical for developing communication skills.  Early intervention is vital for a child’s overall development.

What to look for:                                                                                                  

The following signs are a general guide for healthy hearing in babies and children.
Birth to 8 weeks: A baby is startled by a sudden loud noise three to six feet away.
 
3 months: A settled baby quietens or smiles at the sound of their parent’s voice.
 
6 to 12 months: Baby turns head towards familiar voices or sounds, babbles and responds to close, quiet noises.
 
 
12 to 18 months: Baby knows and immediately responds to their own name.
 
 18 months to 2 years: Child uses a number of single words – other than ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ – and understands simple instructions.
 
2½ to 3½ years: Child speak clearly using groups of words, follows simple commands without visual cues and repeats phrases.
 
Older children: Hearing difficulties can be confused with behavioural problems in older children. Constant inattentiveness, below average school performance and frequent colds and ear aches are signs that there may be a hearing problem.
 What to do if you are concerned:  
 
Contact your family doctor for advice and diagnosis. They may refer you to an Ear, Nose and
Throat Specialist or an Audiologist.
 
You can also speak to your child’s teacher or child care worker.
 
You can also contact Australian Hearing
If you are concerned that your child requires assistance with their hearing. They specialise in the management of hearing loss in infants and children.
Australian Hearing: 131 797
 
How you can help your child:
· Wipe runny noses
· Show kids how to cough into their elbows instead of their hands
· Wash hands after blowing noses
· Don’t smoke near children
· Make sure children eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
· Take your child to the doctor if they have a runny nose, runny or sore ears