The first months and years of a baby's life are critical for developing language. Most children can hear right from birth. They learn to talk by imitating the sounds around them and the voices of their parents and caregivers. But that's not true for every child.

Every year in Ontario, nearly four in 1,000 babies are born deaf or hard of hearing. More lose their hearing later as they grow. Many of these children may need to learn speech and language differently, so it's important to detect hearing loss as early as possible.

Why early screening is important

It's really important to find out if your baby has hearing loss. Undetected hearing loss can cause delays in your baby's learning to talk. That can lead to behavioural and emotional problems and, later on, to problems in school.

The sooner hearing loss is identified, the better. There are many services available to help children with hearing loss. Finding out early means that they can get the help they need right away. And this gives them the same chance to develop language skills as hearing children.

In Ontario, you can now choose hearing screening by itself or expanded hearing screening.