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Vision, Hearing and Speech Overview

Vision, hearing, and speech are an important part of your child's life. When an infant is born, his or her eyesight is immature. The infant later develops the ability to focus. Hearing appears early in fetal development and is necessary for proper progression of speech and language. Monitoring your child's ability to see, hear, and speak is an important part of the health of your growing child.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Optometric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have recommended the following vision screening stages:

  • Newborn. All newborns are examined in the nursery for eye infections and other eye disorders, such as glaucoma.

  • 6 months. Visual screening of infants should be performed during the well-baby visits, particularly checking for how the eyes work together.

  • 3 to 4 years. Formal visual acuity tests and the complete eye exam should be performed.

  • 5 years and older. Annual visual screening tests and eye exams should be performed.

Children develop speech, language, and hearing skills at different ages. However, hearing loss can lead to delays in your child's ability to make sounds, learn to speak, and communicate. The AAP recommends hearing screening for all newborns before they leave the hospital. Talk with your child's healthcare provider if you're concerned about your child's hearing or speech, or if you notice any of the following:

  • No response to sound at any age

  • Infant doesn't move or jump when a loud sound is made

  • No babbling by the time the infant is 9 months old

  • No words spoken by age 18 to 24 months

  • Doesn't follow simple commands by age 2

  • Poor voice quality at any age

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Hearing loss affects nearly 36 million adults in the United States. If ignored or untreated, it can get worse. But hearing loss that is identified early can be treated with hearing aids, medications or surgery. Protect your ears from excessive noise. If you suspect you’re experiencing loss of hearing, schedule a hearing test.

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