Hearing loss happened when you cannot hear sound in one or both ears. It can range from mild to complete:
- Mild, you can’t hear soft speech
- Severe, you can’t hear very loud sounds
- Complete, you cannot hear anything at all. Complete hearing loss called deafness.
Congenital Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a common birth defect. A birth defect is a health condition that is present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works. Hearing loss that is present at birth called congenital hearing loss. Hearing loss also can develop later in babies or during childhood or adulthood.
What are signs of hearing loss?
Signs of hearing loss in your baby can include:
- Not being startled by loud sounds
- Not turning toward the sound of a voice
- Not imitating sounds after he’s 6 months old
- Not babbling by the time he’s 1 year old
- Not using single words or following simple directions by the time he’s 18 months old
- Not using simple, two-word sentences by age 2
How can hearing loss affect your baby?
Early screening, diagnosis and early treatment can help children with hearing loss develop speech, language and social skills. Without early treatment, hearing loss can lead to:
- Delayed or limited language and speech development. For example, babies and children with hearing loss may have trouble-understanding things that other people say, learning new words and saying words the right way. Children with untreated hearing loss may have poor communication skills.
- Low self-esteem. Children may have low self-esteem (feel badly about themselves) if their hearing loss causes learning problems or makes it hard for them to be social with other children.
What are the causes of congenital hearing loss?
Genes are parts of your body’s cells that store instructions for the way your body grows and works. Genes passed from parents to children. Genes may play a role in about half of the cases of hearing loss in babies and children. If you or your partner has a family history of hearing loss, you may want to speak with a genetic counselor before getting pregnant. This person trained to help you understand about how genes, birth defects and other medical conditions run in families, and how they can affect your health and your baby's health.
There are two kinds of genetic hearing loss:
The hearing loss happens with other birth defects, such as Pendred syndrome. Pendred syndrome affects hearing, the sense of balance and the thyroid gland (a gland in your body that makes hormones).
(also called isolated or undifferentiated). This is when hearing loss is the only birth defect a baby has.
How hearing loss treated?
Treatment depends on your baby’s overall health and the cause of the hearing loss. Early treatment starting when your baby is as young as 6 months old can help her develop language skills immediately.
Treatment may include:
Medicines to treat ear infections may include antibiotics, which kill infections caused by bacteria.
Surgery can sometimes correct problems with the structure of the outer and middle ears.
These are tiny tubes placed through the eardrum to allow air into the middle ear and prevent fluids from building up behind the eardrum.
Learning Sign Language.
People who use sign language communicate using hand shapes, direction and motion of the hands, along with facial expressions.
This is therapy to teach your child how to speak more clearly or communicate in other ways. Speech-language pathologists (also called speech therapists) are professionals that can help children learn how to make sounds and improve their voices. They also can teach sign language and help children learn how to be social and interact with others.
Babies as young as 4 weeks old can benefit from a hearing aid. However, even the best hearing aids may not help a baby if the baby has severe or complete hearing loss.