October is Audiology Awareness Month. In honor of that, we wanted to highlight a few key facts about pediatric hearing loss.
Infants Should Be Screened for Hearing Loss
The vast majority of newborns are screened for hearing loss before they leave the hospital. In cases of home birth, parents should talk with their pediatrician about scheduling a screening within the first few weeks after birth. These tests are quick, non-invasive, and can be done while your baby sleeps.
Pediatric Hearing Loss Can Be Temporary
If a newborn screening indicates hearing loss, it can often be caused by a temporary condition, like fluid buildup in the ear. Your pediatrician will likely recommend follow-up tests to monitor your child’s hearing. Similarly, children can experience temporary hearing loss as they age due to issues like an ear infection or earwax buildup. Their hearing will return to normal once the initial cause is resolved.
Pediatric Hearing Loss Has Many Causes
Genetics is the leading cause of pediatric hearing loss. However, multiple potential causes exist, including:
- Infections during pregnancy, such as cytomegalovirus or German measles
- Premature birth or low birth weight
- Ototoxic (damaging to the ears) medications
- Head injury
- Exposure to loud noise
Some of these causes are unavoidable. However, others can be mitigated by making sure you and your child are up to date on vaccinations or using hearing protection when exposed to loud noise.
Hearing Loss Can Make School More Difficult
One of the biggest effects of pediatric hearing loss is that, left untreated, it can cause delays in a child’s speech and language development. This can mean they are slower to speak their first words and may cause them to struggle with reading or understanding sentence structure.
These types of delays can make it harder for your child to have success when they start attending Columbian Elementary or another local school.
Pediatric Hearing Aids Can Help
Depending on the severity of your child’s hearing loss, different treatment options are available. Pediatric hearing aids are one of the more common treatments.
The behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid style is most recommended for children because the earmolds are soft, safe, not easily broken and easy to replace as your child grows.
Using hearing aids can help your child process sounds and speech better. This can make it less likely they experience any developmental delays in speech and language, leading to better success in school and an easier time communicating and connecting with others.
If you are concerned about your child’s hearing and wish to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, call the experts at Ear Specialists of Omaha & Bellevue today.