Conditions + Treatments

Speech Language and Hearing Development Problems in Children

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Children develop speech, language, and hearing skills at different ages. There are several causes of speech delay in children, including neurological causes, behavioral difficulties, and access to appropriate environmental stimuli. However, the most common cause of speech delay in children is the persistence of fluid behind the eardrum and the associated hearing loss.

Fluid behind the eardrum resulting from chronic ear infections may cause a mild hearing loss, preventing children from hearing sound appropriately.

Hearing loss can lead to delays in your child's ability to make sounds, learn to speak, and communicate. Consult your child's physician if you are concerned about your child's hearing or speech, or if you notice any of the following:

  • no response to sound at any age
  • infant does not move or jump when a loud sound is made
  • no babbling by the time the infant is 9 months old
  • no words spoken by the age of 18 to 24 months
  • does not follow simple commands by 2 years old
  • stuttering continues past 5 years old
  • poor voice quality at any age

Any child who has a diagnosis of speech delay, is enrolled in Early Intervention, or has a family history of hearing loss should have an audiologic evaluation. Hearing can be evaluated at any age by our skilled team of audiologists.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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