hearing loss

Preventing and treating congenital hearing loss

Congenital hearing loss can be an incredibly difficult situation for parents and their children. Every year in Australia, 1 to 2 babies out of every 1,000 are born with moderate or greater hearing loss. This type of hearing loss can be triggered by both genetic and non-genetic factors, and is not always preventable. However, with early identification and the right advice from your Perth hearing specialists, you can ensure your child gets the care and long-term support they need to lead a better quality of life.

Non-genetic causes 

Non-hereditary factors account for around 25% of congenital hearing loss cases. These include:

  • Maternal infections – Viral infections such as Rubella (German measles) and cytomeglavirus (CMV) can cause birth defects in children if contracted by the mother during pregnancy.  The onset of hearing loss may not occur immediately, or even for months after birth.
  • Toxins consumed during pregnancy – The consumption of toxins such as alcohol and certain medications by a mother during pregnancy can increase the risk of congenital hearing loss in children.
  • Birth complications – Complications that occur during or shortly after birth can also trigger the development of hearing problems in children.  Lack of oxygen (anoxia), prematurity, and injuries sustained at birth can damage a child’s auditory system, leading to congenital hearing loss.
  • Ototoxic medications –  Certain medications and antibiotics used to treat serious infections in babies or young children can cause long-term hearing damage. This is why their use is generally limited.

Genetic causes

Genetic hearing loss is when hearing defects have resulted from the transmission of genetic information.

  • Autosomal recessive hearing loss – This is when both parents carry a recessive gene which gets passed onto the child. Many parents are unaware they carry this gene in the first place.
  • Autosomal dominant hearing loss – This is when a dominant gene passed on from one parent causes hearing loss in a child.
  • Syndromic hearing loss – Around 30% of genetic hearing loss cases result from genetic syndromes. Common syndromes which include hearing loss are Down Syndrome, Usher Syndrome, Waardenburg Syndrome and Treacher Collins.

Preventing congenital hearing loss

Given the nature of congenital hearing loss, not all cases will be preventable. However, there are several steps you can take to reduce the chances of non-genetic congenital hearing loss in your child during pregnancy. Leading a healthy lifestyle and following the prenatal care advice provided by your doctor will help protect the health of your child. If you suspect your child may be suffering from hearing loss after birth, early identification followed by appropriate treatments and management methods will help you reduce the long-term impact of their hearing problem.

Hearing screens for children

If your child is suffering from congenital hearing loss, early treatment can prove essential to the long-term development of their speech and communication skills. At The Art of Hearing, we want to ensure your child’s hearing loss doesn’t impact their quality of life. Our Perth hearing specialists provide hearing tests for children to identify signs of hearing loss and appropriate hearing solutions. Depending on the age of your child and the severity of their hearing problem, our audiologists may recommend a variety of hearing solutions such as hearing aids or implantable hearing devices.

For more information about our Perth hearing clinics, or to organise a hearing test for your child, visit The Art of Hearing website or contact us on (08) 9390 8811.

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