Understanding Hearing Loss and Hearing Impairment
Most children hear and listen from the moment they are born. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about one in 500 infants is born with or develops hearing loss or hearing impairment (the decreased ability to hear and discriminate among sounds) during early childhood.
Hearing loss can be genetic or non-genetic, or caused by a combination of factors. For many babies, the cause of hearing loss is unknown and hearing problems can be temporary or permanent.
Deafness or hearing impairment affects the child and the child's family, friends, and teachers. Detecting deafness or hearing loss as soon as possible increases a child's ability to acquire language. Babies should have a hearing screening before they are a month old. If your child has hearing loss, it is important to consider the use of hearing devices and other communication options by the age of six months, as children start learning speech and language long before they talk.
Fact Sheets and Frequently Asked Questions
- The Centers For Disease Control provides A Parent’s Guide to Genetics & Hearing Loss.
- The Parent Center Hub provides information on deafness and hearing loss in English and en español.
- The Division of Services for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (NC Dept. of Health and Human Services) provides brochures and fact sheets by related categories.
- The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicable Disorders provides answers to frequently asked questions related to hearing loss/hearing impairment.
- A Hearing and Communicative Development Checklist may be helpful for determining the average age by which most babies accomplish a variety of early speech and language skills.
Advocacy and Social Connections
- To connect with other parents/families who have a child with hearing loss/hearing impairment, contact the Family Support NetworkTM of North Carolina.
- The American Society for Deaf Children supports and educates families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing and advocates for high quality programs and services.
- BEGINNINGS for Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing is a North Carolina-based impartial non-profit that helps parents and families understand hearing loss, the diverse needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and empowers families to advocate for those needs.
- The North Carolina Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association seeks to open the world of communication for people with hearing loss through information, education, advocacy, and support.
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing advocates for those who are deaf or who have hearing loss/hearing impairment.