Causes Of Hearing Impairment In Children

Half of all the cases of congenital hearing impairment in children are caused by various genetic factors. An inherited hearing impairment does not necessarily mean that one or both parents also are hard-of-hearing. About 90 % of children with congenital hearing impairment are born to hearing parents, who may have passed on the condition by being carriers of recessive genes. In 20-30% of disordered cases, the cause of congenital hearing loss is not known.

Prenatal or genetic ailments account for 5-10% of the cases of congenital hearing loss and include infections during pregnancy, such as cytomegalovirus, rubella, herpes or syphilis, toxins consumed by the mother during pregnancy or other conditions occurring at the time of birth or shortly thereafter. Prematurely born babies also have an increased risk of becoming hard-of-hearing. Traumas after birth to the head or childhood infections, such as meningitis, measles or chicken pox, can cause permanent hearing loss. Certain modern medications, such as the antibiotic streptomycin and related drugs, also can be the cause of the child's hearing loss.

Hearing loss in childhood can be difficult to recognize. In almost two thirds of the disordered cases, parents are the first to suspect hearing loss, with other health care providers suspecting it first in approximately 15% of cases, and pediatricians in roughly 10%. Early screening of hearing ability as well as paying attention to the child's responses and general behavior is therefore important for starting treatment as early as possible. Children with hearing impairment as young as age 4 weeks can benefit from a hearing aid.

The occurrence 10-20% of hearing impairment is due to postnatal causes. Ear infections in children like Otitis Media may cause temporary hearing loss or lead to a permanent hearing impairment if left untreated. Otitis media is a type of inflammation in the middle ear or the area behind the eardrum that is usually associated with the buildup of fluid. The accumulated fluid may or may not be infected. Symptoms of the disorder, severity, frequency, and length of the condition vary. At one extreme is a single short period of clear, thin, non-infected fluid without any pain or fever but with a slight decrease in hearing ability. At the other extreme are repeated bouts with thick infection glue-like fluid and possible complications such as permanent hearing loss. Fluctuating conductive hearing impairment nearly always occurs with all types of otitis media. In fact the thing is the most common cause of hearing loss in young children.

A passage between the middle ear and the back of the throat which is called the eustachian tube,, is smaller and more nearly horizontal in children than in adults. For that reason it can be more easily blocked by conditions such as large adenoids and infections. Until the size and angle of the eustachian tube changes as the child grows, children are more susceptible to otitis media. Children learn the sound speech and language from listening to other people talk. For that the first few years of growth are especially critical for this development. If a hearing impairment of any sort exists, a child does not get the full benefit of language learning experiences.