Babies’ balance tested in new research
A new study will explore for the first time whether babies with hearing loss could also benefit from being tested for balance problems at an early age.
University of Canterbury Audiology Lecturer Dr Mike Maslin demonstrates the Video Head Impulse Test (vHIT) on his two-year-old son Theo Maslin.
Dr Maslin, who specialises in audiology, says two-thirds of children with hearing impairment also suffer from balance disorder, or disequilibrium. The problem isn’t usually picked up until the children reach age four or five and have trouble with co-ordination, playing sport, riding a bike, or swimming.
“If a child has hearing loss it’s important we do something about it very quickly, within the first three to six months so the child has the opportunity to learn language skills.
“We think it should be the same for children with balance problems. We don’t want parents or teachers to just assume a child is clumsy or not good at sport when really there’s a significant physiological issue there.”
About 100 Kiwi children are diagnosed with hearing loss each year, which means potentially about 66 a year have an undiagnosed balance disorder.