For children, hearing loss is defined as having hearing loss greater than 15 decibels.

Currently, over 43 million people (12 to 35 years old) live with disabling hearing loss. Approximately two to three out of every 1,000 children experience hearing loss in or both ears. For young people between the ages of 6 and 19, 15% experience hearing loss. In newborns, 50% of hearing loss cases are caused by genetic factors.

Acquired hearing loss occurs after birth, at any time in a child’s life. Hearing loss may occur due to many factors, such as ear infections, chicken pox, head injury, measles, meningitis, and influenza. It also occurs due to exposure to loud noise.

According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, pediatric hearing loss cases have grown from 13.2 million in 1971 to 24.2 million in 1993.

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 12.5% of children and adolescents (ages 6-19) suffered permanent damage to their hearing due to excessive noise exposure. The World Hearing Organization emphasizes that for young people, hearing loss “has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education, and employment.”
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Causes of Pediatric Hearing Loss

Pediatric hearing loss may be congenital (present at birth) or acquired.

Either form may be conductive, sensorineural, or mixed.

Congenital hearing loss may be caused by genetic factors, birth complications, premature birth, a nervous system or brain disorder, the use of ototoxic medication by the mother during pregnancy, infections experienced by the mother during pregnancy (herpes simplex, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, etc.), maternal diabetes, or drug/alcohol abuse during pregnancy.

Acquired hearing loss may be caused by a perforated eardrum, otosclerosis or Meniere’s disease, infection (meningitis, measles, mumps), ototoxic medication, head injury, exposure to loud noise, otitis media (ear infections), or exposure to second-hand smoke.

Signs of Hearing Loss in Children

Generally speaking, infants from birth to four months should startle at loud sounds, wake up or stir at loud sounds, respond to your voice by smiling or cooing, and calm down at a familiar voice. From four to nine months, infants should smile when spoken to, notice toys that make sounds, turn their heads toward familiar noises, make babbling noises, and understand hand motions.

Toddlers and preschool-aged children may have hearing loss if they have difficulty understanding what people are saying, speak differently than other children of their age, do not reply when you call their name, respond inappropriately to questions (misunderstanding), turn up the volume very high on TV and other devices, and have speech or language delays in articulation.

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Hearing Loss Prevention

Hearing loss, once it occurs, is permanent and irreversible.

Most young people do not consider their hearing health as they are enjoying their music and media.

Sit down with your child or teen and discuss the long-term effects of regular exposure to loud noise. Share with them the options for ear protection and tips to minimize their exposure to loud noise daily.

Preventing hearing loss is just as important as treating it. Consider using noise-canceling headphones rather than earbuds as earbuds can expose your child’s ears to dangerous noise levels. Additionally, monitor the use of personal electronic devices connected to headphones. Hearing specialists recommend listening to music or media at 60% of the volume, for no more than 60 minutes. Consider getting customized ear protection for your child, especially if you frequently attend live music or live sporting events.

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Treating Pediatric Hearing Loss

Pediatric hearing loss is most commonly treated with the prescription of hearing aids.

Hearing aids support childhood development, both socially and academically. As with people who wear contact lenses and require annual eye exams, schedule an annual hearing exam for the entire family with Cadenza Audiology! Our comprehensive hearing exams will identify your child’s current hearing ability and whether they are experiencing any kind of hearing loss. If you believe your child is exhibiting signs of hearing loss, our team at Cadenza Audiology is here to help. Schedule a consultation with us to learn more.
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Hear Freely. Laugh Heartily. Live Fully.

Hearing | Tinnitus | Pediatrics

Our mission at Cadenza Audiology is to affirm the value and dignity of each person by supporting and enhancing the individual’s ability to communicate, to connect with loved ones, and to enjoy life to its fullest. We believe in applying the latest research and technology to empower each unique individual.
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