Causes of Hearing Loss In Children

May 1, 2019 1:31 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

While many people expect to have some degree of hearing loss as they get older, hearing loss can occur at any age. When it comes to children, hearing is an important part of development. It factors in to speech and language skills, and can affect how children develop socially.

Hearing loss in children used to not be detected until the child was old enough to start talking. When a child did not begin to speak during this time, it would become apparent that their hearing was not what it should be.

An article from Healthy Hearing mentions that research has found that detection and intervention for hearing loss before a child is six months of age can greatly improve the outcome of the child. Because of this, hearing screenings have become universal for newborns in hospitals across the U.S. Children with hearing loss are being identified and treated at a much younger age, helping to set them up for success.

At Valley Hearing Center, we can help you and your children with any hearing tests and treatment you may need. We offer free hearing tests and can pair your kiddo with the best hearing aids for their needs. In today’s blog, we wanted to discuss hearing loss in kids a little more in depth. If you think your child might have trouble hearing or it has been a while since they have gotten a hearing test done, be sure to contact us at one of our California locations to schedule a hearing test and learn more about your child’s hearing.

Is Hearing Loss In Children Common?

According to the Healthy Hearing article, about 1.4 per 1,000 newborns have a hearing loss at birth and five in every 1,000 children will experience hearing loss, with most being diagnosed between three and 17. While it may not seem to be an extremely common occurrence, hearing loss in children seems to be becoming more common due to the noise in our current environments. The article mentions that the CDC estimated that at least 12.5 percent of children from the age of six to 19 have suffered permanent damage to their hearing because of excessive noise exposure.

What Causes Hearing Loss In Children?

There is no one cause for hearing loss in children. But no matter what is causing your child’s hearing loss, it is important that it is addressed as soon as possible. When a child with hearing loss goes undiagnosed, it can affect their development and cause emotional problems that could have long-lasting effects. Hearing loss can be congenital or acquired, as well as sensorineural, conductive, or mixed. We are going to take a closer look at both congenital hearing loss and acquired hearing loss.

Congenital Hearing Loss

This type of hearing loss is present at birth and can be caused by a variety of things. However, the cause is not always easy to identify. These causes can be both genetic and non-genetic.

Genetic Factors:

  • Autosomal recessive hearing loss: This is the most common type of genetic congenital hearing loss and accounts for about 70 percent of all hearing loss. When this type of hearing loss is present in children, it means that neither of their parents have hearing loss, but they both carry a recessive gene that gets passed to the child.
  • Autosomal dominant hearing loss: This type of hearing loss accounts for 15 percent of genetic hearing loss. This type occurs because one parent carries a dominant gene for hearing loss that is then passed to the child. The parent may or may not have hearing loss, but may have symptoms of a genetic syndrome.

Non-Genetic Factors:

  • When a baby is born premature and has a birth weight of less than three pounds or require certain life-sustaining drugs, the risk of hearing loss increases.
  • Birth complications, such as a lack of oxygen, the need for blood transfusion, presence of herpes, rubella cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and other serious infections, can lead to hearing loss in newborns.
  • Brain disorder or a nervous system disorder can lead to hearing loss.
  • The use of ototoxic medications by the mother during pregnancy can lead to hearing loss in their baby.
  • If the mother had an infection, maternal diabetes, or abused drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, their infant has a higher risk of hearing loss.

These are the congenital causes of hearing loss in newborns, but there are rare cases when doctors are not sure what causes an infant to be born with hearing loss. Not every child with hearing loss is born with it either, which brings us to the acquired causes of hearing loss in children.

Acquired Hearing Loss

Acquired hearing loss occurs after birth and could happen at any time in someone’s life. There are a number of different causes that can lead to this type of hearing loss.

These include:

  • Taking ototoxic medications
  • A serious head injury
  • A perforated eardrum
  • Otosclerosis or Meniere’s disease
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Untreated or frequent ear infections
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Infections including mumps, measles, whooping cough, and meningitis

While some of these causes are unavoidable, by understanding what can cause a child’s acquired hearing loss, you can better help your kiddo to avoid these things and help protect their hearing.

Otitis Media

This is one additional cause of hearing loss in children. Otitis media is an inflammation in the middle ear and is also known as a middle ear infection. According to an article from ASHA, this is one of the more frequently diagnosed diseases infants and young children. About 75 percent of children experience at least one episode of otitis media before turning three.

Otitis media is so common in children because the eustachian tube, which creates a passage between the middle ear and the back of the throat, is smaller in children than in adults. This makes it more easily blocked, which will lead to more otitis media diagnosis in children.

When a child has otitis media, their three bones in the middle ear, which carry sound vibrations to the inner ear, cannot properly transmit the vibrations, which can cause sounds to become muffled or inaudible. This type of hearing loss is often temporary, but when otitis media occurs over and over, it can cause damage to the eardrum, the bones in the ear, or even the hearing nerve, which can lead to more permanent hearing loss.

If otitis media causes an infection, your child is likely to have pain and a fever, which allows you to know that there is a problem. However, if there is no infection, these symptoms may not be present, which makes it more difficult to determine if your child has a problem or not. There are a few signs to look for, these include:

  • Inattentiveness
  • Having the television or radio too loud
  • Misunderstanding directions
  • Pulling or scratching at the ear
  • Unexplained irritability

If you notice any of these things, be sure to bring your child to a doctor to better determine what the problem is.

Now that you know more about the causes of hearing loss in children, you may be able to better ensure that your child’s hearing is on point and protect them against factors that could cause hearing loss. If you notice that your child has trouble hearing, be sure to bring them into one of the Valley Hearing Center California locations for a hearing test and to learn more about treatment options. Contact us today to get started!

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This post was written by Cassidy

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