Detection of hearing loss in children should occur as early in life as possible. Ideally, infants born with hearing loss should be identified by three months of age so that rehabilitation programs — including the fitting of hearing instruments — can be initiated. The first three years of life are critical to speech and language development.
A child with suspected hearing loss is evaluated cooperatively by the audiologist, the physician (otologist/otolaryngologist), and other appropriate specialists when required. The extent of the work-up varies greatly depending on the complexity of the problem. After all the evaluations are completed, a treatment plan is formulated that depends upon the degree and configuration of the hearing loss and whether the loss is expected to progress. Long-term follow-up of children with hearing loss is usually required and other members of the health care team (family physician, pediatrician, hearing healthcare professional, speech-language pathologist, and social worker) are frequently involved.