Hearing problems in children

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Key points to remember

  • if you have concerns about your child's hearing at any time, take your child for an assessment
  • if your child does have a hearing problem, finding it early is good for their learning and development

What are the signs of a hearing problem?

Hearing checklist (Ministry of Health)

If your child has speech or language difficulties, has trouble following instructions, is easily distracted or has difficulty paying attention in class they may have a hearing problem. These symptoms may vary from time to time.

See the National Screening Unit website for:

You can arrange for a full hearing assessment for your child at the audiology department of your local hospital.

If you notice a discharge from your child's ear, you should take them to see your family doctor. Some areas have mobile children's ear clinics which visit schools and early childhood education centres. If your area has a mobile clinic, you could also talk to the ear nurse specialists who staff these. They are specially trained to diagnose, treat, monitor and refer for children with middle ear problems.

A smelly discharge from your child's ear could indicate a serious health problem. You should visit your family doctor immediately if you notice this.

If your child does have a hearing problem, finding it early is good for their learning and development.

What will it cost if my child has a hearing problem?

You will not have to pay to have your child's hearing assessed at the hospital audiology clinic. You may need a referral for your child from your family doctor and.there may be a wait before your child is seen. There is likely to be a charge if you visit a local private audiologist.

Support for children with hearing loss or auditory processing disorders is available free of charge. Hearing aids, cochlear implants and other devices for children are provided free.

This page last reviewed 14 February 2014
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2014
Printed on 22 November 2014. Content is regularly updated so please refer to www.kidshealth.org.nz for the most up-to-date version
Content endorsed by the Paediatric Society of New Zealand