Hearing impairment is a common developmental disorder and can be easily missed if a high index of suspicion is not present. In Singapore, the majority of babies born in the restructured hospitals and many in the private hospitals routinely receive a universal newborn hearing screen at birth. This allows early pickup of congenital hearing impairment, which should be diagnosed by 3 months and intervened by 6 months for best outcome.
For any child who subsequently present with developmental delay, it is still best that repeat hearing screening is carried out. Whilst most parents will think that their child is not deaf, it is possible that mild degrees of hearing impairment are present. Infections along the way or damage to the auditory nerve may occur as the child grows. Hearing impairment is mostly subtle and a silent diagnosis. Yet, it has a heavy impact, even in its mildest form, on speech and language development as well as learning.
Should hearing impairment be detected, investigations need to be carried out to explore potential causes. Intervention at the earliest opportunity will make a significant difference in all domains of development.