Hearing Loss in Children – When Should Parents Start Worrying?

Hearing is essential for children in order to acquire the ability of speech, language and social interaction while growing. While a few decades ago it was impossible to detect hearing loss or the complete inability to hear in children younger than two, in the past few years, hearing screenings in newborn babies has become a common practice across the USA.

Hearing loss in children – How common is it?

Out of 1,000 babies, approximately 1.5 suffers from a form of hearing loss. However, the CDC has reported that that more and more children between 3 and 18 years old suffer from hearing loss.  Specialists think that the continuously increasing noise levels in nowadays’ environment plays a great role in the increasing number of children with hearing issues. Another CDC research has shown that 13% of children between 6 and 20 suffer from permanent damage to the ear due to loud noise.

What are some of the causes of hearing loss in children?

Hearing loss in children is usually a result of two types of causes – congenital and acquired. Knowing the signs of hearing loss is important for all the parties involved in the child’s development, from parents, to teachers and caregivers.

Congenital hearing loss

In terms of congenital hearing loss, there are more genetic and non-genetic factors that may lead to giving birth to an infant with hearing difficulties.

  • Non-genetic factors: birth complications, the presence of a herpes, toxoplasmosis and other infections, premature birth, a brain disorder, the mother’s use of various medication during pregnancy, mother’s various infections during pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy and even maternal diabetes. These are some of the most common non genetic factors that lead to infantile hearing loss.
  • Genetic factors: various genetic syndromes, such as Usher’s Syndrome, Down syndrome and others might cause infantile deafness. Autosomal recessive hearing loss is maybe one of the most common genetic hearing loss causes, affecting more than 70% of the babies with congenital issues. Autosomal dominant hearing loss is guilty of approximately 16% of the infantile deafness cases.

Acquired hearing loss

  • Secondhand smoke exposure;
  • Head injuries;
  • Exposure to noisy environments;
  • Ototoxic medications administration;
  • Untreated ear infections;
  • Meningitis, measles, mumps or whooping cough;
  • Otosclerosis;
  • Meniere’s disease.

When should parents start worrying?

For a child with hearing loss means that their development will be burdened by their inability to hear. Speech will remain underdeveloped, and their ability to socialize smaller than in normal children. If the affection is not congenital, parents should take action as soon as they notice that their child is not as responsive as they should be when called on their name, or if they tend to raise the volume of various entertainment or media outlets in order to hear. Also, after head injuries and ear infections, hearing screenings is recommended. Discuss with your GP is you suspect hearing loss in your child. They will guide you to see a specialist, and if necessary will recommend a hearing aid.

Hearing is crucial for a healthy child development. Early action is the key to a normal life.

[expand title = “References“]

Babyhearng.org. Genetic Hearing Loss FAQ. Accessed October 13, 2017.

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