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Deafness -- infants; Hearing impairment -- infants; Conductive hearing loss -- infants; Sensorineural hearing loss -- infants; Central hearing loss -- infants
Over 30 states in the United States now have mandatory hearing screenings of newborns. Early treatment of hearing loss can allow many infants to develop normal language skills without delay. In infants born with hearing loss, treatments should start as early as possible, preferably by 6 months of age.
Treatment depends on the baby's overall health and cause of hearing loss. Treatment may include:
Treating the cause of hearing loss may include:
How well your baby does depends on the cause and severity of the hearing loss. Advances in hearing aid technology and speech therapy allow many children to develop normal language skills at the same age as their peers with normal hearing. Even infants with profound hearing loss will do well with the right combination of treatments.
If the baby has a disorder that affects more than hearing, the prognosis depends on the particular disorder and what other effects it has on the body.
Children with cochlear implants may be at a higher risk for bacterial meningitis (inflammation around the brain, which may spread through the blood to the rest of the body). Vaccinations against several types of bacteria that cause meningitis are available, and may reduce the risk of the disease in a child with a cochlear implant. For guidelines, consult your health care provider.
Call your health care provider if your baby or young child displays signs of hearing loss, such as not reacting to loud noises, not making or mimicking noises, or not speaking at the expected age.
If your child has a cochlear implant, call your health care provider immediately if your child develops a fever, stiff neck, headache, or an ear infection.
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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