- Under-developed structures in outer or middle ear or damage to the inner ear (cochlea).
- Prematurity/low birth weight is a risk factor for hearing loss.
- Babies that have a birth weight of less than 3 pounds or that require certain life-sustaining drugs for respiration due to prematurity are at risk for hearing loss.
- About one in every four children with hearing loss also is born weighing less than 2,500 grams (about 5 1/2 pounds).
- Birth complications such as lack of oxygen or the requirement of a blood transfusion.
- The use of ototoxic medication by the mother during pregnancy.
- Ototoxic medications are not usually illicit substances.
- Medications like various antibiotics and NSAIDS can potentially cause damage to the auditory nerve or other hearing structures of the fetus.
- Maternal diabetes.
- Maternal illness during pregnancy such as: herpes, rubella, toxoplasmosis, German measles, cytomeglavirous or another serious infection.
- Congential cytomeglavirous (CMV) infection during pregnancy is a preventable risk factor for hearing loss among children. [Read summary]
- 14% of those exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) of some type.
- About 3% to 5% of those exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop bilateral moderate-to-profound SNHL.
- A 2005 HealthStyles survey by CDC found that only 14% of female respondents had heard of CMV.
- Untreated or frequent otitis media (ear infections)
- A perforated eardrum
- Otosclerosis or Meniere’s diseases (hearing loss progresses over time)
- Infections like meningitis, measles, mumps, syphilis or whooping cough
- Taking ototoxic medications (e.g. some cancer treatments)
- A serious head injury
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
. Other types of hearing disorders: There are other types of hearing disorders that are not necessarily related to the structure of the outer, middle or inner ears. Auditory Neuropathy Dyssynchrony Spectrum Disorder (ANSD), also known as auditory dysynchrony, means that the cochlea (inner ear) is actually functioning normally but the sound information is not accurately sent to the brain. Auditory neuropathy may be inherited or caused by trauma/disease. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a hearing problem that affects about 2-3% of children (Chermak and Musiek, 1997). Children with APD typically have normal hearing ability but can’t make sense of what they hear in the same way other children do because something disturbs affects the way the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, especially speech. Hyperacusis is not a hearing loss. It is on over-sensitivity to sound that can impact daily a child’s ability to function in daily life. Because children are often unable to describe their discomfort they often resort to emotions or behaviors to communicate their experience. These may include crying in noisy environments, clasping hands over the ears, fear of noise or noisy objects, self-harm when exposed to loud noise, i.e. vacuum cleaners, and reluctance to participate in noisy or loud activities (e.g. watch parades, birthday parties, musical presentations). Children with Autsim or Asperger’s Spectrums may experience hyperacusis or children can aquire hyperacusis following frequent or severe ear infections, head injuries, viruses, or medication adverse reactions, or unknown causes.
. Degrees of Hearing Loss: Hearing loss is described using words and numbers. The audiologist will explain the degree of hearing loss on a chart called and audiogram. Where the X and O markings fall on the audiogram will determine the degree of hearing loss. Degrees of hearing loss can be:
Want to do a fun activity with children to teach them the parts of the ear and how it works? Try the EDIBLE EAR! Use food items for fun and learning. See the Edible Ear for a list of materials and a visual of the finished ‘ear.’
Resources Sorting It Out – Four Types of Hearing Loss Permanent Conductive Hearing Loss Unilateral Hearing Loss – hearing loss in only one ear What is ‘normal’ hearing for children? Mild Hearing Loss Video Hyperacusis in Children Hyperacusis: Over-sensitivity to Sound Auditory Neuropathy ANSD Auditory Neuropathy/Auditory Spectrum Disorder Myths About Auditory Processing Disorders Simulations: Simulation of Degrees of Hearing Loss (Flintstones) Simulation of Hearing Loss (Scott Bradly) Simulation of Auditory Processing Disorder Simulation of Auditory Neuropathy Downloadable PDFs: Making Sense of the Audiogram Unilateral Hearing Loss in the Classroom List of Ototoxic Medications Slight Hearing Loss Pamphlet Auditory Neuropathy Canadian Guidelines on Auditory Processing Disorder in Children and Adults: Assessment and Intervention (2012) References: Alberta College of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists (2014). Information Sheet: Childhood Ear Infections American Speech-Language-Hearing Association – Causes of Hearing Loss in Children Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – 2012 Annual Data Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Program Coelho CB, Sanchez TG, Tyler RS. Hyperacusis, sound annoyance, and loudness hypersensitivity in children. Progress in Brain Research. 2007; 166:169-78. Chermak, G. & Musiek, F. (1997). Central Auditory Processing Disorders: New Perspectives. San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing Group. Mandy Mroz (2015). Hearing Loss in Children. Retrieved from http://www.healthyhearing.com/help/hearing-loss/children. The Journal of the American Medical Association – Change in Prevalence of Hearing Loss in US Adolescents