Causes and Signs of Hearing Difficulties in Infants

Hearing loss in infants Image: cdc.gov
Hearing loss in infants
Image: cdc.gov

 

Dr. Frank Brettschneider, a privately practicing otolaryngologist and oro-facial plastic surgeon, welcomes a diverse range of patients with hearing loss. Dr. Frank Brettschneider builds on extensive experience in performing hearing screenings for newborn babies.

Hearing loss in children may be either a congenital or acquired condition. Congenital hearing loss, often diagnosed at birth, develops as a result of heredity or from problems in pregnancy or delivery. Premature birth may also put a baby at risk of congenital hearing loss, as can a neurologic disorder.

However, some infants do develop hearing loss during the first months or years of life. Hearing loss in these children may be a secondary condition to an infection, such as meningitis or influenza. Children may also lose hearing following a head injury, after exposure to extremely loud noise, or as a reaction to a particular medication. Parents are often the first to notice hearing loss in such cases.

Many parents begin to suspect hearing loss when they realize that their babies no longer jump or startle at a loud noise. They may notice that the baby is not responding to music or soothing voices, or that the child does not appear to be producing sound as expected. Most babies begin to coo by 2 months of age and babble by 4 to 8 months of age, and failure to do so may be a sign of hearing loss. This is particularly likely if the child does not turn toward an unseen sound, respond to changes in tone of voice, or enjoy playing with noisemaking toys.

Development in hearing and speech involves a variety of processes, and only a physician can assess whether a child’s delays stem from hearing problems or other issues. Parents should discuss any concerns they might have with the child’s pediatrician or a specialist.

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