There are a number of reasons your child might suffer from hearing loss, whether risk factors for hearing loss are present or not. If you suspect your child has a hearing loss, you should visit a pediatrician or hearing specialist, who can administer a screening test and recommend further action.
Here are some of the most common causes of hearing loss in infants or children:
1. Viral infections. Congenital CMV is the most common cause of acquired hearing loss, accounting for more than 30 percent of all cases. Even if children are born with no symptoms as a result of the maternal infection during pregnancy, they still can develop hearing loss in the first few years of life. Childhood viral infections such as mumps, influenza, or any other infection resulting in a high fever can also lead to hearing loss down the road.
2. Ear infections or chronic ear fluid. Temporary hearing loss can result from episodes of acute ear infections. However, any child with recurrent ear infections or persistent fluid in the middle ear should undergo a hearing evaluation.
3. Meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is a known risk factor for hearing loss in infants and children. Any child who has suffered from bacterial meningitis should have a baseline hearing evaluation after completing treatment.
4. Head trauma. Infants and children who suffer from head trauma and skull fractures (specifically basilar or temporal bone fractures) are at risk of hearing deficits.
5. Chemotherapy. Children who undergo chemotherapy, especially when combined with radiation, are at risk for hearing loss. Certain chemotherapeutic agents are more ototoxic than others, especially drugs containing platinum.
6. Repeated exposure to loud sounds. Studies have shown that many children’s toys can be too loud, even when played with for a short duration. Exposure to loud noises may not damage the ear right away but can lead to hearing loss over a period of time.
Parents are often the best judges when it comes to screening for hearing loss in their children. If you think your child may suffer from hearing loss, don’t wait. Ask your child’s pediatrician for a hearing evaluation as soon as possible. The earlier a child with hearing loss is diagnosed and begins services, the better the outcome.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, January 2020
- Head trauma, chemotherapy, and repeated exposure to loud sounds can cause acquired hearing loss.
- Some viral infections, like mumps and influenza, can lead to hearing loss down the road.
- Some children with reoccurring acute ear infections should be tested for hearing loss.