Detecting Hearing Loss in Children

  • Author:
    Jillyen E. Kibby, MA, CCC-A

    Ms. Kibby received her master's degree in Audiology with honors from California State University, Long Beach, and is currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Florida. She completed her clinical fellowship and spent seven years at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, where she trained for her pediatric specialty.

  • Author: David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

  • Medical Editor: James K. Bredenkamp, MD, FACS
    James K. Bredenkamp, MD, FACS

    James K. Bredenkamp, MD, FACS

    Dr. Bredenkamp recieved his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He then went on to serve a six year residency at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine in the department of Surgery.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ear Infection Slideshow Pictures

What are the causes, risk factors, and signs of hearing loss in children?

There are a number of risk factors for hearing loss in children, so there are a number of special reasons why a child's hearing may need to be screened or tested. Common indications for a hearing evaluation include

  • speech delay,
  • frequent or recurrent ear infections,
  • a family history of hearing loss (hearing loss can be inherited),
  • syndromes known to be associated with hearing loss (for example, Down syndrome, the Alport syndrome, and Crouzon syndrome),
  • infectious diseases that cause hearing loss (for example, meningitis, measles, and cytomegalovirus [CMV] infection),
  • medical treatments that may have hearing loss as a side effect, including some antibiotics and some chemotherapy agents,
  • poor school performance, and
  • diagnosis of a learning disability or other disorder, such as autism or pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).

In addition, the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy and birth may be associated with subsequent hearing loss. If there is a history that includes any of the following, a child should have a hearing assessment.

  • low birth weight (less than 2 pounds) and/or prematurity
  • assisted ventilation (to help with breathing for more than 10 days after birth)
  • low Apgar scores (numbers assigned at birth that reflect the newborn's health status)
  • severe jaundice after birth
  • maternal illness during pregnancy (for example, German measles [rubella])
  • hydrocephalus

Some parents start to suspect that their child cannot hear normally because the child does not respond to his or her name consistently or asks for words, phrases, or sentences to be repeated. Another sign can be that the child does not seem to be paying attention to sounds or to what is being said.

On the average, only half of all children diagnosed with a hearing loss actually have a known risk factor for hearing loss. This means that the cause is never known in about half of children with hearing loss. For this reason, all states in the U.S. have instituted a universal hearing screen so that all babies have their hearing screened before they go home from the newborn nursery.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/10/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Hearing Loss in Children - Diagnosis

    How did you first notice your child may have hearing problems?

    Post View 1 Comment
  • Hearing Loss in Children - Diagnosis

    How did you first notice your child may have hearing problems?

    Post
  • Hearing Loss - Treatment

    Please explain how doctors treated your child's hearing loss.

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors