Deafness in Children


As per studies, around 1.4 babies per 1000 new-borns, suffer from hearing loss. Due to exposure to noise in the environment, hearing loss has become very common-place among the youth, unfortunately.

A baby starts hearing while still a foetus in the mother’s womb. The first few years are crucial to the development of communication skills in babies. Speech and hearing are intricately interconnected in children. Children learn and develop their speaking skills by copying those around them. If they can’t hear properly, they won’t learn to speak properly either.

Unfortunately, it is not really possible for parents to ascertain that their child has hearing impairment before the child turns at least 8 to 12 months old.

Causes of Deafness in Children


Conditions from Birth
  • Inheritance of malfunctioning genes from parents.
  • Infection received in the womb such as rubella (German Measles).
  • Blood’s Rh factor related complications
  • Premature birth
  • Diabetes in mother
  • Toxaemia during pregnancy
  • Anoxia or lack of oxygen
  • Post-birth ventilator support for more than 10 days.
  • Severe jaundice after birth
  • Hydrocephalus (fluid accumulation in the brain).

Post-birth conditions

  • Ear infections (Otitis Media)
  • Ototoxic medicines such as encephalitis, meningitis, measles, chickenpox, mumps, or influenza
  • Head injury or trauma to ear
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Foreign bodies in ear
  • Earwax compaction
  • In rare cases, deafness could be caused by cancer.

Symptoms


As the baby grows into a toddler, the signs of hearing loss might include: –

  • Limited, poor, or no speech.
  • Frequently inattentive.
  • Learning Difficulty.
  • Watching TV at a higher volume than normal.
  • Fails to respond to conversation-level speech or gives inappropriate answers to a speech.
  • Fails to respond to his or her name or gets easily frustrated if there is a lot of background noise.

Precautions & Treatments


  • If the cause of hearing loss is due to a condition called secretory otitis media (accumulation of fluid behind the ear-drum due to acute infection), the surgeon conducts a surgery called myringotomy grommet to restore hearing.
  • Children suffering from higher severities of hearing loss may require other types of technological assistance such as BAHA hearing system or a cochlear implant (an electronic device is partially implanted surgically into the cochlea)
  • Alternatives can be used along with speech therapy, special education, and FM (frequency modulated) or IR (infrared) systems to provide superior access to auditory information in afflicted children. If the condition is incurable, then based on hearing assessments hearing aids are prescribed.
  • For children who are too young or have delayed development issues, trained audiologists have two types of tests that do not require cooperation: –
        • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Test
        • Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) Test
  • Cooperative and alert infants or toddlers between the ages of 5 to 30 months are usually assessed for hearing through a test called the Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA). Older children between 3-5 years of age are assessed through a technique called Play Audiometry.

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