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What Causes Hearing Loss In Babies

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Hearing Loss In Babies And Children

What are the causes of hearing loss in children? – Dr. Girish Rai

While most babies can hear normally, an estimated 3 out of every 1000 babies are born with some degree of hearing loss. Without screening or testing, however, hearing loss may not be detected until a baby is several months or even years older.

Thats why over 30 states, including New Jersey, have laws that require newborns have a hearing test before leaving the hospital or birthing center. This is a short, painless test called an auditory brainstem response . It uses a special computer to measure the way your baby’s hearing nerve responds to different sounds. Youll receive the results of this test before you take your baby home.

At Cooper, this test is performed by highly trained nurses and technicians. If an issue is found follow-up is with one of the audiologist in the Division of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.

Central Auditory Pathways Diseases

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in auditory processing in infants . Auditory processing disorder can be either developmental or acquired. It may result from ear infections, head injuries or neurodevelopmental delays, including those that affect processing of auditory information. In the majority of cases of developmental APD, the cause is unknown. One exception is acquired epileptic aphasia or Landau-Kleffner syndrome in which children between 5-7 years old develop an auditory verbal agnosia. There is increasing evidence that dysfunction during a sensitive period may have long-term consequences for auditory development. It should be kept in mind that the developing auditory cortex is highly plastic. As such, the cortex is both primed to mature normally and is at risk for reorganizing abnormally, depending upon numerous factors that determine central maturation.

Thefollowing Are The Causes Of Hearing Loss In Children:


In young children, middle-ear infections are common as they have short Eustachian tubes . These tubes connect middle ears to the nose. Accumulation of fluid results in infection and pain. Even in absence of infection and pain if fluid stays behind the eardrum it affects hearing. When otitis media becomes severe and lasts for a long time, it may lead to permanent hearing loss.


Some casesof hearing loss in children can be attributed to genetic causes .Such children are born deaf.

Hearingloss during pregnancy or prenatal care

In somecases, a woman who has gestational diabetes or preeclampsia can give birth to achild with hearing loss. Sometimes, a prematurely born baby too has a risk ofhearing loss or deafness.

Head Injury

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How Do You Know If Your Baby Has Hearing Loss

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all babies get screened for hearing loss before theyre 1 month old. Most babies get their hearing checked as part of newborn screening before they leave the hospital after birth. Newborn screening checks for serious but rare and mostly treatable health conditions at birth. It includes blood, hearing and heart screening.

If your baby doesnt pass her newborn hearing screening, it doesnt always mean she has hearing loss. But she needs a full hearing test as soon as possible before shes 3 months old. A full hearing test can help your babys health care provider diagnose hearing loss.

If your baby has hearing loss, getting treatment right away is important. Every state has an Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program that works to help children with hearing loss and their families. It can help with full hearing tests and other services for your baby. You can find your local EHDI program through the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management website.

What Is Hearing Loss

Progressive Hearing Loss in Children

Hearing loss can happen when any part of the ear isnt working in the usual way. It can range from mild to profound:

  • Mild: You can hear some speech sounds, but soft sounds are hard to hear.
  • Moderate: You cant hear very many speech sounds when someone is talking at a normal level.
  • Severe: You cant hear any speech sounds when someone is talking at a normal level. You can only hear some loud sounds.
  • Profound: You cant hear any speech sounds. You can only hear very loud sounds.

Hearing loss is a common birth defect. Birth defects are structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part of the body. They may affect how the body looks, works or both. Birth defects can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or how the body works. Up to 3 in 1,000 babies are born with some kind of hearing loss in the United States each year.

When a baby is born with hearing loss, its called congenital hearing loss. Hearing loss also can develop later in babies or during childhood or adulthood.

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Causes Of Hearing Loss

Is it my fault or not?
Does it matter what caused it?
  • It can sometimes tell you how to treat the hearing loss.
  • It may alert you to other problems you should look for.
  • It may let you know whether your child’s hearing loss may change as she grows.
  • It may tell you if other family members might develop hearing loss.

Ear infections and fluid in the ears may block sound from moving from the outer ear to the inner ear.

  • Blocking the sound can cause a mild or moderate hearing loss.
  • Doctors call this conductive hearing loss
  • Usually this kind of hearing loss goes away when the infection clears up

What you can do

  • Give your child antibiotics or other medicine, if her doctor says to do so.
  • Take your child back for another checkup after you finish treatment. The doctor may want to recheck your child’s ears and/or her hearing.
  • Talk to your doctor if your child’s ear infections keep coming back. The doctor may want to place tiny tubes through your child’s eardrums. The tubes let liquid drain out. This is done through surgery. Putting tubes in cuts down on your child’s risk of having future ear infections and hearing loss.

Canadian Academy Of Audiology

Presbycusis is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most individuals as they growolder. Hearing loss is a common disorder associated with aging. About 30-35 percentof adults between the ages of 65 and 75 years have a hearing loss. It is estimated that40-50 percent of people 75 and older have a hearing loss. The loss associated withpresbycusis is usually greater for high-pitched sounds. For example, it may be difficultfor someone to hear the nearby chirping of a bird or the ringing of a telephone. However,the same person may be able to clearly hear the low-pitched sound of a truck rumblingdown the street.

There are many causes of presbycusis. Most commonly, it arises from changes in theinner ear of a person as he or she ages, but presbycusis can also result from complexchanges along the nerve pathways leading to the brain. Presbycusis most often occursin both ears, affecting them equally. Because the process of loss is gradual, people whohave presbycusis may not realize that their hearing is diminishing.

What are the symptoms of presbycusis?
What are the causes of presbycusis?
What can be done?

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Causes In Early Childhood

Being born prematurely can increase the risk of a child being deaf or becoming deaf. Premature babies are often more prone to infections that can cause deafness. Severe jaundice or a lack of oxygen at some point can also cause deafness. Infections during early childhood, such as meningitis, measles and mumps, can be responsible for a child becoming deaf.

Temporary deafness in children is most commonly caused by glue ear.

Children may develop a rare ear disease known as cholesteatoma. This can happen at any time during childhood.

Children born with enlarged vestibular aqueducts can be born with a hearing loss which can be progressive or develop for the first time in early childhood.

Children may develop a rare condition known as otosclerosis. This can happen at any time during childhood, but is more common in teenagers and young adults.

Occasionally, a head injury or exposure to loud noise can damage the hearing system.

Types Of Hearing Loss In Children

Health: Suspect hearing loss if the infant does not respond to sound

The primary distinction of a childâs hearing loss is made based on whether the loss of hearing comes from the inner-, middle or outer ear.

Conductive hearing loss

Hearing loss caused by an outer or middle ear problem is called conductive hearing loss. With a conductive hearing loss, the inner ear functions normally, but there is damage or an obstruction affecting the outer or middle ear, hindering sound from reaching the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss is usually temporary and treatable in children. Sounds from the outside are softer while the individualâs own voice sounds louder than normal.

Common causes of conductive hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss

Damage to the inner ear is called sensorineural hearing loss. It is caused by dysfunction of the cochlea or auditory pathways to the brain and is often present from birth. It can also develop due to constant exposure to loud music, noise, or exposure to medication that can damage hearing. Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and cannot be treated with medicine or surgery. In most cases, hearing aids or cochlear implants can help.

Noise induced hearing loss is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. Sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting. It is important to ensure your child not be exposed to harmful noises by either reducing the noise, using protective devices or removing your child away from it.

Mixed hearing loss

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Why Its Important To Detect Hearing Loss Early

If hearing loss isnt found until later, early stimulation of the hearing centers in your babys brain cant take place. This can have a variety of negative impacts, including:

  • Speech and language can be delayed
  • Social and emotional development can be affected
  • Success in school can be compromised

Importantly, many of these hearing loss complications can be prevented with diagnosis and appropriate treatment before your baby is 6 months old.

Why Choose Cooper To Treat Hearing Loss In Babies And Children

Cooper University Health Cares Division of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery is part of the only tertiary-care, academic health system in South Jersey. We have a team of fellowship-trained otolaryngologists as well as experienced audiologists, and licensed speech-language pathologists who are uniquely qualified to treat infants and children with hearing loss.

Together, they provide an unparalleled level of comprehensive medical and surgical care for the full range of issues relating to hearing loss in the smallest of patients.

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Treatment Of Childhood Deafness

Currently, in the case of Spain, a universal hearing loss screening is carried out, so that all newborns are subjected to a rapid test that allows newborns with possible deafness to be identified. In this way, early treatment and rehabilitation can be applied that allow the child to enjoy adequate development.

The treatment in cases of hearing loss consists of an early stimulation of the baby, carrying out a speech therapy and audioprosthetic intervention adjusted to their particular needs. In cases where hearing loss is severe, cochlear implants are used. These consist of electronic devices that serve so that deaf people can receive sounds. This allows implanted deaf children to carry out their activities just like everyone else.

Being able to perceive the stimuli of the environment and the speech of those around you is of enormous help to improve your quality of life, reducing all the negative consequences mentioned above. Cochlear implants directly stimulate the auditory nerve, preventing the ear from deteriorating further. These are usually the best alternative to address severe hearing loss, since in these cases hearing aids are not effective.

The cochlear implant is essentially made up of two parts. On the one hand, an external one, which is placed just behind the ear. On the other hand, an internal one that requires a surgical intervention to be placed. All implants have the following structures:

Auditory Processing Disorder In Kids With Normal Hearing

Mild Hearing Loss in Children

Some kids may pass traditional hearing tests, but still struggle to listen and understand speech, particularly in noisy environments. They may ask you to repeat what you’ve said a lot, and struggle to differentiate similar sounding words. If this sounds like your child, it’s important to talk to your doctor, as it could be auditory processing disorder. This means the ears can detect sound adequately, but the brain struggles to interpret the sound correctly.

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What Are The Complications Of Hearing Loss

Having hearing loss can make you feel disconnected from the world around you. You may become frustrated, irritable or angry. People with severe hearing loss can become anxious or depressed. Children with hearing loss may struggle in school and get poor grades. Studies also show a link between hearing loss in older adults and dementia.

What Are Hearing Problems In Children

There are many types of hearing problems in children. Many of these problems result in hearing loss. This loss may be only temporary but it can also be permanent. Its important that parents and other caretakers recognize the signs of hearing loss. The sooner you recognize a hearing problem, the better it will be for your child.

Children learn how to talk by hearing and imitating the sounds of people around them. And children start to learn about language and speech before they learn to talk. So the sooner your child has access to sound, the better. If your baby has a hearing problem, using a hearing device early on and other communication options can help avoid speech delays and problems.

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How Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treated

Sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent. Because hearing is central to a childs ability to develop language skills, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Early intervention helps children with hearing loss develop language skills using a combination of reading, speaking, lip reading, sign language and other tools. It can also teach parents skills to help them communicate with their child effectively.

Early intervention is most effective when started early. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that babies with hearing loss start receiving intervention services as soon as possible, no later than 6 months of age. The earlier a child with hearing loss starts learning speech, language and social skills, the better.

Hearing aids are electronic or battery-operated devices that amplify sound. For many children with mild or moderate hearing loss, a hearing aid can produce almost normal clarity of speech in a quiet room. Children with severe or profound hearing loss will be able to pick up some sounds through a hearing aid but typically need to combine lip-reading or sign language to understand speech and participate in conversations fully.

How Is Hearing Loss In Babies And Children Diagnosed

Ear infection in children: Causes of Hearing loss – Dr. Sheelu Srinivas

If your child can’t hear properly it can affect their learning, concentration and communication. Therefore it’s important to detect any hearing loss as early as possible, ideally in the first few months. Unfortunately, many hearing problems in children are not picked up until about 3 years of age.

Research from the Ministry of Health shows that if hearing loss is diagnosed early, and you make use of the options to restore their hearing, your child is likely to have improved language, learning and social development.

For this reason, a newborn hearing test is offered to all babies within the first month of life. Make sure your baby has this simple test. If there are any delays, ask your midwife, Plunket nurse or GP to follow up.

Read more about the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme from the National Screening Unit.

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Drug Delivery And Therapeutic Targets

Pharmacological treatment to enhance self-repair of hair cells and trans-differentiation of supporting cells will require high throughput, rapid screening systems to optimize rational drug design and the development of drug delivery systems for the cochlea. Studies have demonstrated the efficiency of zebra-fish models in drug design 131 and middle ear infused, gelatine-based hydrogels appear promising as a means to deliver drugs to the cochlea. 132 A novel intra-tympanic polymer gel delivery system has been evaluated and tested as a strategy for antiviral drug delivery in a guinea pig model 133 and holds promise for providing antiviral therapy to the CMV-infected cochlea while sparing the patient the substantial toxicities associated with systemic delivery of antiviral agents.

Symptoms Of Childhood Deafness

There are some symptoms that can alert us that a child suffers from hearing loss. Some of them are the following:

  • The baby does not make sounds or babble at 6 months.
  • The baby does not recognize his own name or respond to sounds in the environment, such as the telephone or the doorbell.
  • The baby does not repeat or imitate simple words at 15 months.
  • The baby cannot say at least 10 words at 24 months.
  • The baby cannot make two-word sentences at 36 months.
  • The baby cannot make simple sentences at 48 months.

Usually, parents often suspect a hearing deficit when their child does not respond to sounds or is unable to speak. However, when the hearing deficit is less profound, it may be less evident and this complicates the diagnosis. Many of his behaviors can be misunderstood, such as the child ignoring people who talk to him, but doing so only occasionally or that the child speaks and hears well at home, but not at school.

This is explained because mild deficits only cause problems in noisy contexts, such as a class. If any of these signs appear, it is crucial that a professional examine the child to assess whether it is a case of hearing loss.

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