Did you know that five out of every 1,000 children are impacted by hearing loss? While ages vary from anywhere between the age of three and 17, hearing loss is becoming more common due to several possible causes, whether it’s present from birth or acquired over time.
Knowing the signs of hearing loss can protect the mental and emotional development of a child, ultimately saving them from life-long problems. We at Arkansas Otolaryngology Center of Central Arkansas believe it’s important that parents, physicians and teachers are aware of how to assess hearing in children so that any early signs of hearing loss can be treated.
Congenital Hearing Issues
There are several factors that affect can hearing loss in babies and are classified as genetic or non-genetic. Non-genetic hearing loss includes:
Birth complications, such as the presence of an infection or lack of oxygen during delivery
Brain or nervous system disorder
Drug or alcohol abuse by the mother during the pregnancy
While factors like these generally account for only 25% of children with hearing loss, experts tend to agree that genetic factors account for closer to 50%. Genetic factors can either be present when the child is delivered or can develop later in life. They generally include:
Autosomal recessive hearing loss, which accounts for nearly 70% of all genetic hearing loss in children and autosomal dominant hearing loss, which accounts for 15%.
Genetic syndromes, like Waardenburg syndrome or Down syndrome.
Acquired Hearing Issues
Hearing loss can also be the result of a child’s environment. Issues can often be caused by any of the following:
Infections like meningitis, measles, whooping cough and mumps
A serious head injury
Exposure to loud noise
Untreated ear infections
Exposure to secondhand smoke
Transient Hearing Issues
Transient or short-term hearing loss can also affect the development of speech and language for children. Often known as a middle ear infection, short term hearing loss can be caused by otitis media. Being the most common cause of hearing loss in children, at least 75 percent of children have had at least one case of middle ear infection by age three.
While otitis media is temporary, there could be permanent hearing damage if it occurs repeatedly.
Parents, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts if you sense that your child may suffer from hearing loss. Consulting your doctor about possible issues will only open the door for early solutions that will help your child excel later in life.