Approximately 2-3 out of every 1,000 babies is born with hearing loss in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of course, not every child who has hearing loss is born with it; in fact, the World Health Organization estimates that in children under 15 years of age, 60% of hearing loss cases are attributable to preventable causes.
Below is an overview of some of the most common causes of pediatric hearing loss.
Otitis media is inflammation in the middle ear caused by the buildup of fluid that may or may not be infected. It is the most frequently diagnosed disease in infants and young children. In fact, approximately 75% of children experience at least one episode of otitis media by their third birthday. It is especially common in children because their Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the throat to drain fluids, are much shorter and more horizontal than adults’.
Conductive hearing loss that fluctuates is a very common side-effect of otitis media. This is because the three tiny bones in the middle ear that carry sound vibrations from the eardrum to the middle ear cannot transmit sound energy when fluid is presvent. This can result in a mild to moderate hearing loss.
While this hearing loss is usually temporary and clears up with the infection, chronic otitis media can damage the eardrum, the bones in the middle ear and even the auditory nerve, resulting in permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Early treatment is key.
The term “congenital hearing loss” implies that hearing loss is present at birth, and can be either the result of hereditary factors or problems during pregnancy/birth. Genetic factors are thought to cause more than 50% of all incidents of congenital hearing loss in children.
Issues during pregnancy and birth that can result in congenital hearing loss include:
- Intrauterine infections (like rubella and herpes)
- Complications with Rh factor in the blood
- Premature birth
- Maternal diabetes
- Toxemia during pregnancy
- Lack of oxygen
Acquired hearing loss is a sweeping term that covers hearing loss that occurs after birth as the result of a medical condition, disease or injury. Possible causes include:
- Ototoxic drugs
- Chicken pox
- Head injury
- Noise exposure
Untreated hearing loss can impact a child’s speech-language acquisition and their performance in school. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Evergreen Speech & Hearing Inc. today.