What Causes Deafness In Babies
• The loss can occur in one or both ears. It may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Profound hearing loss is what most people call deafness.
• Sometimes hearing loss gets worse over time. Other times it stays stable and does not get worse.
Risk factors for infant hearing loss include:
• Family history of hearing loss
• Low birth weight
Hearing loss may occur when there is a problem in the outer or middle ear. These problems may slow or prevent sound waves from passing through. They include:
• Buildup of ear wax
• Buildup of fluid behind the eardrum
• Injury to or rupture of the eardrum
• Objects stuck in the ear canal
• Scar on the eardrum from many infections
Another type of hearing loss is due to a problem with the inner ear. It may occur when the tiny hair cells (nerve endings) that move sound through the ear are damaged. This type of hearing loss can be caused by:
• Exposure to certain toxic chemicals or medications while in the womb or after birth
• Genetic disorders
• Infections that can damage the brain after birth, such as meningitis or measles
• Problems with the structure of the inner ear
Central hearing loss results from damage to the auditory nerve itself, or the brain pathways that lead to the nerve. Central hearing loss is rare in infants and children.
Signs of hearing loss in infants vary by age. For example:
• A newborn baby with hearing loss may not startle when there is a loud noise nearby.
• Older infants, who should respond to familiar voices, may show no reaction when spoken to.
• Children should be using single words by 15 months, and simple 2-word sentences by age 2. If they do not reach these milestones, the cause may be hearing loss.
Some children may not be diagnosed with hearing loss until they are in school. This is true even if they were born with hearing loss. Inattention and falling behind in class work may be signs of undiagnosed hearing loss.