Hearing loss in babies

Hearing loss in babies

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Should I be worried about my baby's hearing?

Not worried, but conscientious. Most babies are born with perfect hearing. But about 2 to 3 in every 1,000 healthy babies in the United States are born with hearing loss, making it the most common birth defect. (Babies who need to enter the neonatal intensive care unit have a higher risk of hearing loss.) And because children rely on their hearing to learn from the very beginning, it's crucial to identify and remedy problems as early as possible.

Children who don't receive help for hearing loss suffer from language delays, reading difficulty, and trouble with social skills. In fact, children with only mild hearing loss are ten times as likely to be held back a grade than children with normal hearing.

The sooner a child with a hearing problem is diagnosed and gets individualized language training, hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other treatment, the more likely he is to meet developmental speech and language milestones, says Alison Grimes, audiologist and assistant clinical professor at UCLA Medical Center. The best time for children with hearing loss to receive help is before they're 6 months old, experts agree.

How will I know if my baby has a hearing problem?

These days, most hospitals screen a new baby's hearing before sending him home, using a couple of newborn hearing tests, which take only five to ten minutes each. If your baby wasn't screened in the hospital, ask the doctor about checking his hearing as soon as possible – within the first month.

Sometimes hearing loss develops later on, though. Parents and caregivers are often the first to notice when a baby's not hearing well, so take note if your baby isn't reacting to sounds as you think he should, and tell the doctor right away.

Here are some guidelines for what to expect in a child with normal hearing:

  • Your newborn startles when he hears a loud sound.
  • At around 2 months of age, he becomes quiet when he hears your voice.
  • When he's 4 or 5 months old, he'll look toward a loud sound.
  • At 6 months, he begins to imitate sounds and babble.
  • At around 9 months, he'll turn toward a softer sound.
  • By 1 year, he responds to music and says "ma-ma" and "da-da."

Learn more about warning signs of hearing problems.

What causes hearing problems?

There are two types of hearing loss – congenital (meaning the baby was born with it) and acquired (meaning the baby lost hearing sometime after birth).

Sometimes hearing impairment is inherited – even if both parents have normal hearing. Other times a baby's hearing is damaged because his mother had a viral infection during pregnancy, such as German measles (rubella), toxoplasmosis, or herpes.

Some children are born with impaired hearing because of low birth weight or premature birth, or abnormal inner ear development. In some cases, there's no explanation.

After birth, a child may suffer hearing loss when the nerves in his inner ear are damaged by an injury, a tumor, or an infection such as chicken pox, the flu, meningitis, or mononucleosis. Medications such as chemotherapy agents, salicylates, loop diuretics, and certain intravenous antibiotics may also cause hearing loss.

Hearing loss can also be caused by fluid retained in the middle ear – after infection or because of poor ventilation of the ear. This fluid can remain in the ear for weeks, even after an infection is gone, says David H. Darrow, professor of otolaryngology and pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

The fluid can cause temporary hearing loss until the fluid clears or is surgically removed. (It's hard to hear through an ear filled with fluid.) Permanent hearing loss from fluid is rare, but it can occur in children whose fluid remains untreated, resulting in structural changes in the eardrum or hearing bones.

If your baby has recurrent ear infections or middle ear fluid, his doctor may recommend a hearing test. She may also recommend inserting tubes into your baby's eardrums so that any fluid that accumulates behind them will be able to drain out and the ears remain ventilated.

Earwax and foreign objects in the ear can also cause temporary hearing loss.

How are hearing problems treated?

If your baby was born with hearing loss or developed the problem due to an illness, it may not be reversible, but there are many options for helping him hear as much as possible, says Grimes. Talk to an audiologist (hearing expert) about the possibilities.

Even babies can wear a hearing aid, a small electronic device worn inside or behind the ear that amplifies sound. Babies and young children typically wear the hearing aids that fit behind the ear.

Your child's doctor can refer you to an audiologist, or you can search for one at the American Academy of Audiology's website.

If your baby's hearing impairment is classified as severe or profound, he may be a candidate for a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant consists of electrodes that are inserted into the inner ear (cochlea) and an external device that picks up and processes sound. The implant functions as a replacement for the inner ear by carrying the auditory signal to the brain.

Implants can help many children with severe hearing loss who are unable to benefit from hearing aids. But even with a hearing aid or implant, these children will need speech therapy for several years to be able to speak understandably.

For some deaf children, speaking and listening are not possible. In these cases, it's important for the child to start learning sign language as soon as he can. Finally, some families choose a combined approach that allows the child to function as well as possible in both the deaf and hearing communities.

What can I do to help prevent hearing loss in my baby?

While a baby will sometimes have hearing loss because of genetics or an unavoidable condition, there are things you can do to minimize the risk from other factors:

  • Never insert anything into your baby's ear canal. Even cotton-tipped swabs can cause damage.
  • Immunize your baby against childhood diseases, because some of these – like mumps– can cause hearing loss.
  • Monitor your baby's colds and ear infections. If your baby shows signs of having an ear infection, talk with his doctor.
  • Don't expose your baby to noise that's too loud, especially ongoing noise. If you have to raise your voice to be heard over the noise, then it's too loud. Carpeting and area rugs help soften indoor noise.

Watch the video: Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss - Boys Town National Research Hospital (June 2022).