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What are some of the causes of hearing loss in the newborn?
Hearing loss in a newborn can be caused by a number of conditions. Some of the known risk factors include high bilirubin levels (jaundice), drugs that are toxic to the ears (for example, medicines that are given to the newborn to battle a serious infection may damage hearing as a side effect), prolonged mechanical ventilation, low Apgar scores, meningitis, prematurity, and/or low birth weight. Malformed structures in the middle or outer ear can also lead to hearing loss. Viral illness during the pregnancy, such as rubella (German measles) or cytomegalovirus (CMV), can be passed to the newborn and result in hearing loss. Hearing loss can sometimes be inherited in abnormal genes passed from the parents to the newborn or be the result of a gene mutation that occurred during fetal development. Genetic counseling is often recommended for parents to determine if heredity is the cause of the hearing loss. In approximately half of all cases of hearing loss, the cause is never determined.