SoundSpace Online

Deafness from Birth

Around 1 baby in every 1000 is born with a permanent hearing loss, and if a newborn has spent more than 48 hours in intensive care, this number rises to 1 in 100 ([51]). More than 95% of these deaf babies are born to hearing, not deaf, parents, and hence the language of their home is typically a spoken one. Babies acquire this language by hearing it, and using it in interactions and conversations with their family members. For the deaf baby, the challenge of acquiring this spoken language, without hearing it, is immense. Even lesser hearing losses can have an impact on a child’s development in a number of areas.

Deafness from birth can have an impact on:

  • Communication and language development - children who struggle to hear are at risk of speech, language and communication difficulties
  • Social, emotional and cognitive growth - not hearing the nuances of speech and language may lead to difficulties in relationships with others, and in cognitive development
  • Educational achievement - children who struggle to hear may find it difficult to learn in school, particularly in developing literacy skills
  • Employment opportunities - severe to profoundly deaf people are 4 times more likely to be unemployed than the general population

Please visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing (ASHA) website to read more about the impact of hearing loss on a child’s development. For further information about the facts, figures and global impact of hearing loss, please visit the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

We do know that the earlier we diagnose deafness and provide information for families, the better the opportunities for the child to learn to communicate and develop language, improving their social, emotional and cognitive development, and later educational attainments. This is why early identification via newborn hearing screening is so important. Please visit the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to find out more on screening and diagnosis, and see SoundSpace Online - Newborn hearing screening for more information on newborn hearing screening.