Cheshire mum taken by surprise by toddler’s hearing loss

Published: Tue Jan 20 2009

When baby Ciara underwent hearing tests at the age of 14 months she was found to have glue ear. Having Down’s syndrome meant she was more at risk, but Ciara’s mum Lucy hadn’t suspected there was a problem.

Lucy said: "Ciara did have a number of head colds as a baby and also experienced a couple of ear infections prior to being diagnosed with glue ear, but these were only mild. When I saw Ciara grabbing her ear and seeming a bit grumpy I took her along to the doctor’s and she was quickly treated with antibiotics. As I know children with Down’s syndrome are more susceptible to ear infections, I did look out for them and doctors checked her ears regularly.

"When Ciara had hearing tests which showed there was some hearing loss, I was surprised. At that time she seemed to be responding well to different things, enjoying singing and playing musical instruments. Also, one of the tests (a distraction test) relied on Ciara responding appropriately to sounds made by the health visitor, and I felt the reason why she didn’t do well in this test was because she did not want to play along.

"Sometime later I realised for myself that she wasn’t hearing so well. She was in her playroom and as I approached from the hallway, I called her name. Normally she would have rushed over to greet me as I got to the door, but this time she only noticed when I clapped my hands as I came in.

To help Ciara hear better, a hearing aid was provided, but whilst she would wear it if distracted, eventually she started to pull it off and found it difficult to tolerate. As a result, Ciara’s specialist recommended grommets, which were fitted in September 2008.

Following the operation, Lucy noticed an instant improvement in Ciara’s hearing and recent hearing tests also confirmed this. Lucy also says there has been an improvement in Ciara’s speech and language development, as she has begun to copy more of what she hears.

Even though she knew glue ear is common in children with Down’s syndrome, Lucy was surprised that it can be difficult to spot. ‘It doesn’t necessarily mean your child has gone stone deaf, a hearing loss can be quite subtle and there may be no other noticeable signs. My experience has taught me that you can never have enough information. I was on the look-out for ear problems and still missed the initial signs; I am sure with better information that I would have picked it up quicker."

Deafness Research UK is the country's only charity dedicated to finding new cures, treatments and technologies for the deaf, hard of hearing and other hearing impaired people including tinnitus sufferers. For information on research into deafness and other hearing conditions, log on to the website,

Notes to editors
Parents worried about children’s ear infections and not sure where to turn can now get up-to-date advice and guidance from leading national charity Deafness Research UK, who has just published its new leaflet Ear infections and glue ear in children.

Around 200,0001 children suffer from repeated ear infections or glue ear each year in the UK. Whilst the majority of ear infections clear up naturally, there is a danger that potentially more serious cases are being overlooked and, whilst rare, the bacteria that cause ear infections can lead to complications such as pneumonia and meningitis.

Where the conditions cause hearing loss because the middle ear becomes filled with fluid, younger children in particular can have problems with language development and speech.

The leaflet is full of practical tips and guidance and contains the latest medical thinking on these conditions, describing the range of possible symptoms, current treatments and ways in which parents can support their child and prevent further problems. Historically, incidences of children’s ear infections in the UK reach a peak between January and March approximately, which is why Deafness Research UK is publishing its leaflet now.

With good knowledge, parents can do much to help their child and so Deafness Research UK’s new leaflet is being circulated to 6,000 GP surgeries in January, and can also be obtained directly from Deafness Research UK, telephone 0808 808 2222 or email

About Deafness Research UK
• Deafness Research UK is the country’s only charity dedicated to finding new cures, treatments and technologies for deaf, hard of hearing and other hearing impaired people.
• The charity supports high quality medical research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all forms of hearing impairment including tinnitus.
• The Deafness Research UK Information Service provides free information and advice based on the latest scientific evidence and informed by leading experts. The Information Service can be contacted on Freephone 0808 808 2222
• For more information on research into deafness, tinnitus and other hearing conditions, log on to the website at where you can access a wide range of information. Alternatively you can e-mail Deafness Research UK at
• One in seven people in the UK – almost nine million people - suffer hearing loss.
• Deafness Research UK was founded in 1985 by Lord (Jack) and Lady Ashley of Stoke.
• In January 2008, Action for Tinnitus Research (ATR) was linked with Deafness Research UK under a uniting direction order under section 96(6) of the Charities Act 1993.
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