Why does my child have a hearing loss?

Hearing Loss Causes in Children

Identifying what caused your baby to have a hearing loss may provide important information on its treatment or management. This is particularly useful information considering that fifty percent of hearing loss in children is caused by heredity or genetic factors. It is important to note however, that causes of hearing loss in babies can be non-genetic factors that may not be known. In fifty percent of children with hearing loss, the causes of hearing loss remain unknown. In some children, genetic hearing loss occurs along with other medical conditions that may involve other organs such as the heart or the kidneys or the eyes. These are called Syndromes for which your baby will require additional assessments. For example,

The Jervell and Lange-Neilsen Syndrome: hearing loss and heart condition

Alport’s Syndrome: hearing loss and kidney involvement

Ushers Syndrome: hearing loss with progressive deterioration in vision

Identifying the causes of hearing loss in your baby helps predict whether your baby’s hearing loss will change over time and recommends how often it should be assessed and monitored. It further helps you understand whether other members of your family are at risk for hearing.

Risk factors for hearing:

The different causes of hearing loss are classified by the point in time that they manifest Pre-natal factors occur before birth; peri-natal factors occur during the birthing process, while post-natal factors occur after birth. Some of these factors are listed below:

Learn of Pre-natal Hearing Loss Causes

Pre-natal factors

Hearing loss may have been passed on to the growing foetus as a result of infections or fevers developed during pregnancy that may or may have not been diagnosed. E.g. Syphilis, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Herpes, Toxoplasmosis

Learn of Peri-natal Hearing Loss Causes

Peri-natal factors

  • At birth, certain infections in the mother may have passed to the new born. These babies are at risk for hearing. E.g. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV).
  • Babies born prematurely with a low birth weight (less than 1500 grams) requiring mechanical ventilation are at risk for hearing.
Learn of Post-natal Hearing Loss Causes

Post-natal factors

  • New borns who did not cry immediately at birth, causing a lack in the supply of oxygen, are at risk for hearing
  • Babies who suffered any trauma at birth or had neonatal jaundice are also at risk for hearing.
  • Babies who developed infections or illnesses during infancy or in early childhood such as Mumps, Measles or Meningitis (viral or bacterial) are at risk for hearing.
  • Babies who were given high doses of specific medication for a short period of time to combat infections or illnesses in infancy or early childhood are at risk for hearing.
  • Babies who were exposed to very high levels of noise over prolonged periods of time in infancy or early childhood are at risk for hearing.

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