02 April 2013

Children and hearing loss

Some children are born with a hearing loss; others develop a hearing loss because of diseases or injuries.

Most children experience temporary hearing loss due to earwax or Otitis Media. Other types of hearing loss are permanent or could result in permanent hearing impairment. About 3-4 in every 1,000 newborns have significant hearing impairment. Hearing loss can be inherited or can be caused by illness or injury.

If your child suffers from hearing loss, hearing aids may be the best remedy to improve hearing ability and minimise the adverse effects of his or her hearing problem.

Otitis media

Otitis media is the most common cause of hearing loss among children, and occurs typically during winter or spring. Children under five years of age and people from developing countries are at the highest risk of experiencing otitis media. By examining data from 15 of the 21 WHO regions, researchers from the Institute for Maternal and Child Health in Trieste, Italy, found that 709 million people are diagnosed with acute otitis media every year. Of those, 51% are five years old or younger.

Meningitis and hearing loss

Meningitis is one of the leading post-natal causes of hearing loss. Children who have had meningitis are five times more likely to have a significant hearing impairment than other children. In general, a third of children who survive meningitis will be left with devastating long-term side-effects.

Signs of hearing loss in children

Parents are recommended to watch for the critical developmental milestones in their child, as these can be used as a guide to help detect possible hearing loss. Infants and young children have developmental milestones that parents can watch for to identify a possible hearing loss. Delayed or absent speech is the most important clue which can indicate possible hearing loss in children.

Testing children's hearing

A broad variety of hearing tests for children are available. Some of the hearing tests may be used for children of all ages, while others are used based on the child's age and level of understanding. Furthermore, hearing screening of newborns before they leave the hospital or maternity ward is becoming more and more a common practice.

Girl writes a book about her hearing loss

8-year-old Samantha Brownlie has written a book, “Samantha's Fun FM Unit and Hearing Aid Book,” about her hearing loss and her use of hearing aids and an FM-system. The book is a handwritten and illustrated storybook that describes her life with a hearing aid and her use of an FM unit when she goes to school.


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