Causes of Loss of Hearing in Children

Hearing loss can be broken down into various categories such as sensorineural, conductive or mixed. Sensorineural occurs when the inner ear, cranial nerve, or the central processing centers of the brain are damaged. This type of loss is usually permanent and can not be corrected medically or surgically. Conductive returns to a problem in the ear that interferees with sound, such as earwax buildup, and can usually be surgically or medically corrected. Mixed is a combination of sensorineural and conductive loss of hearing.

There are many different reasons why a child may suffer loss of hearing. Some of those are listed below.

Hearing loss can be genetic, meaning that it is passed from the parents to the children. Some parents do not have hearing problems, but carry a recessive gene. If that is the case, the loss of hearing generally occurs in one out of every four children. Normally, there is no other deafness in the family, so the presence of the recessive gene is not expected. In other cases, one or both parents may carry a dominant gene and suffer some type of loss that has about a 50 percent chance of being passed on to their children. X-linked hearing loss occurs when the mother carries a recessive trait for hearing loss in the sex chromosome. In those cases, the hearing loss will only be passed on to the sons.

Premature babies, especially those born before seven months gestation, do not have a mature auditory system and can suffer from sensorineural loss of hearing. Oxygen deprivation during birth and a condition called jaundice may also cause this loss within infants.

Infections in the mother prior to birth can cause hearing loss in the child by damaging the inside of the ear. Such infections include measles, syphilis, some forms of herpes and toxoplasmosis. Maternal diabetes can also cause hearing problems in children.

Infections during childhood can damage the inner ear and result in hearing loss. Some of those include mumps, measles, chicken pox and bacterial or viral meningitis.

Meningitis causes an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord covering. The hearing nerves became irreversibly affected resulting in hearing loss. This is the most common after-effect of meningitis. The loss can range from mild to profound deafness.

In most cases, a hearing aid will help restore hearing to the extent that the child can attend school and function normally. The type of hearing aid will depend on the type and extent of the loss. Behind-the-ear devices are often recommended due to their durability and to growth and safety issues of the child. This type of hearing aid rests behind the ear and a plastic tube runs from the device into the ear canal. Children's hearing aids are now made using advanced technology and include many new practical features.

If it is suspected that a child is suffering from hearing loss, parents should immediately have their child tested by an audiologist so that the reason for the loss can be determined and treatment options explored. It is important to discover the reason for the hearing loss. In some cases, lack of treatment can result in total deafness of the child.