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Deafness -- infants; Hearing impairment -- infants; Conductive hearing loss -- infants; Sensorineural hearing loss -- infants; Central hearing loss -- infants
About 2 - 3 infants out of every 1,000 live births will have some degree of hearing loss at birth. Hearing loss can also develop in children who had normal hearing as infants. The loss can occur in one or both ears, and may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Profound hearing loss is what most people call deafness.
Some cases of hearing loss are progressive (they get worse over time). Other cases of hearing loss stay stable and do not get worse.
Risk factors for infant hearing loss include:
There are four types of hearing loss:
Conductive hearing loss results from a problem in the outer or middle ear, such as wax buildup, rupture of the eardrum, or repeated infections. It is usually possible to treat conductive hearing loss with medication or surgery.
Causes of conductive hearing loss in infants include:
Sensorineural hearing loss results from a problem with the inner ear. The inner ear is responsible for sending signals to the auditory (hearing) nerve. There is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss. People with this type of hearing loss may benefit from hearing aids or a cochlear implant.
Causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:
Mixed hearing loss is hearing loss that results from a combination of conductive and sensorineural problems. Causes of mixed hearing loss can include any combination of the above SNHL and CHL causes.
Central hearing loss results from damage to the auditory nerve itself, or the brain pathways that lead to the nerve. Central hearing loss is rare in infants and children.
Causes of central hearing loss include:
Haddad J Jr. Hearing loss. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 636.
Cunningham M, Cox EO. Hearing assessment in infants and children: recommendations beyond neonatal screening. Pediatrics. 2003;11:436-440.
O'Handley JG, Tobin E. Tagge B. Otorhinolaryngology. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 25.
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