What Causes Pediatric Hearing Loss?

It’s important to identify and treat hearing loss in children right away. Untreated hearing loss in children has been shown to lead to delayed speech and language skills, learning problems in school, poor self-esteem and difficulty making friends. Below are some of the most common causes of pediatric hearing loss.

Acquired Causes

Children socializing on bench outside.

Acquired hearing loss describes a hearing loss that presents after birth, usually the result of a disease, medical condition or injury. The following are common acquired causes of hearing loss in children:

  • Ototoxic drugs
  • Meningitis
  • Measles
  • Encephalitis
  • Chicken pox
  • Influenza
  • Mumps
  • Head injury
  • Noise exposure
  • Otitis media

Otitis Media

Otitis media, more commonly referred to as a middle ear infection, is inflammation in the middle ear caused by fluid buildup that may or may not be infected. Otitis media is the most frequently diagnosed disease in infants and young children. In fact, 75% of children experience at least one middle ear infection by their third birthday.

The reason this condition is so common in children is because their Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the throat, are much smaller and more horizontal than adults’, meaning they have more trouble allowing fluid to drain.

When fluid is present, vibrations cannot be transmitted as efficiently through the three tiny bones in the middle ear, causing sounds to be muffled or inaudible. This type of hearing loss is called conductive hearing loss, and it usually goes away once the infection clears. However, chronic cases can damage the ears and cause permanent sensorineural hearing loss.

Congenital Causes

Congenital hearing loss is a hearing loss that is present from birth. This includes hereditary hearing loss caused by genetics as well as hearing loss caused by factors present in utero or at the time of birth.

Genetic factors account for more than 50% of all incidents of congenital hearing loss, which may be:

  • Autosomal dominant: One parent carries a dominant gene and passes it to the child
  • Autosomal recessive: Both parents carry a recessive gene and pass it to the child
  • X-linked: The mother carries a recessive gene on the sex chromosome which can be passed only to males

Other congenital causes include:

  • Intrauterine infections
  • Complications with Rh factor in the blood
  • Prematurity
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Toxemia during pregnancy
  • Lack of oxygen

For more information or to schedule a hearing test for your child, call the Tinnitus & Hearing Experts today.

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