Hearing is one of the first senses that we develop. Unborn babies listen to the melodies of their mother while in the womb before their birth. Speech and hearing are the basic tools for a child to develop his social skills. They learn to communicate with the sounds they hear.
If hearing loss is left untreated or undetected, it might lead to difficulties in development of language or speech, academic problems and other social problems. Early intervention is the only way one can expect effective treatment.
Pediatric Hearing Loss:
According to studies, around 2 out of every 100 children are affected by hearing loss before they turn 18. Hearing aids and early start of special educational programs will offer them the best chances to develop their language and speech skills. There are mainly two types of hearing loss in children:
1. Congenital hearing loss that is present at birth.
2. Acquired hearing loss that occurs after birth.
What Causes Hearing Loss in Infants?
Here are some of the probable causes that results in congenital and acquired hearing loss in children:
Causes of Congenital Hearing Loss :
- Infections such as cytomegolavirus, German measles or toxoplasmosis in pregnancy.
- Intake of ototoxic medicines in pregnancy.
- Infections during birth or in case the baby requires neonatal care.
- If the birth weight is less than 3 lbs.
- If the baby requires blood transfusion.
- If the baby needs external help for respiratory problems.
- Hearing loss in common in premature infants.
- Disorder in the nervous system.
- If there is history of hearing loss running in the family.
Causes of Acquired Hearing Loss:
- Infections like mumps, meningitis, measles, whooping cough.
- Too much of noise like fireworks.
- Oxotoxic medicines.
- Head injury.
- Disease like Ménière’s or otosclerosis.
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Symptoms Of Hearing Loss In Infants:
You as a parent must be the first one to notice this problem. Some of the early signs of hearing loss in infants:
- Inability of the child to hear loud noises.
- Not responding to your calls.
- If she asks you often to make the TV or radio louder.
- Suffers from fever often.
- Suffers from ear pain.
- Has little energy and stops paying attention.
- Finds it difficult to follow directions.
- If you notice any of these symptoms for longer, you can consult the doctor for a proper diagnosis.
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Once your baby has been diagnosed, the doctor will recommend you the appropriate treatment measures.
- A child diagnosed with hearing problem is referred to the ENT department.
- Necessary devices and hearing aids are suggested depending on the severity of the disorder.
- You as well as your child will be guided by the audiologist through the different steps in choosing the right devise.
- You will also be instructed about use and care of the devices.
- When a child is diagnosed with severe hearing loss, he is referred to regional care centers of speech pathology and education.
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Checklist For Hearing Loss In Babies:
You must be able to recognize hearing loss in babies and infants at the earliest. Here is a checklist for your assistance, if some of these are not happening as per age, immediate medical intervention is recommended.
a. Birth To 4 Months:
- Does your child wake up to loud noise?
- Does she calm down listening to familiar sounds?
- Does she respond to your coos and smiles?
b. 4 Months To 9 Months:
- Turn towards known sounds?
- Looks at rattle?
- Makes babbling sounds.
- Looks like she understands simple words or a wave.
- Smile when you speak to her.
c. From 9 Months To 15 Months:
- Babble different sounds?
- Repeat some of the sounds you make.
- Says words like ” mama” or “DA-DA”.
- Makes noise to attract attention.
- Responds when called.
d. From 15 Months To 24 Months:
- Point to objects.
- Love listening to rhymes, songs and stories.
- Name the known objects
- Say one or two words.
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Learning how to identify the problem of hearing loss and guide your child through the different stages is the best way to approach this issue. Most behaviors listed above are age appropriate. However, in case of any doubts, you must always feel free to contact a pediatrician.
If you have any ideas about hearing loss in toddlers/babies, please share your thoughts in the section below.
Reference : 1
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