Prelingual hearing loss is a hearing loss that occurs before the child starts to learn to speak. It is not as common as postlingual hearing loss and is often inherited. It is either acquired (occurring after birth because of injury or illness) or it might be present from birth. Let’s look at the causes and treatments of prelingual deafness.
Genetic factors account for half of the hearing loss issues in infants. These factors include autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive hearing loss. The latter happens when the recessive gene is carried by both parents and inherited by their child. Autosomal dominant hearing loss occurs when the abnormal gene from one of the parents causes the hearing loss, in spite of the matched gene of the second parent being normal.
A quarter of congenital hearing loss is caused by non-genetic factors including:
- maternal infections (e.g., Rubella)
- maternal diabetes
- lack of oxygen,
- toxemia during pregnancy
- herpes simplex
- low birth weight
- birth injuries
- toxins including any alcohol or drugs that have been consumed during pregnancy by the mother
Treatments for prelingual deafness include cochlear implants and hearing aids. Stimulating the auditory nerve, cochlear implants are designed to restore the hearing abilities. However, the quality of the sound will not be the same as the sound quality of normal ears. Nevertheless, the technology is advancing, and the safety and benefits of the implants continue to grow. The consensus is to use the cochlear implants as soon as possible, and as early as at six months if possible. This is done so that the child does not fall behind in the language learning process. If children receive the implants at an early stage, they may even acquire the same verbal skills as children that have normal hearing.
With the knowledge of the causes and treatments of prelingual deafness, one can work hard at prevention and know what to do in case of a diagnosis.For more information on the causes and treatments of prelingual deafness, consult your family doctor.