Pediatric Hearing Loss
Temporary versus Permanent Loss
Fortunately, most pediatric hearing loss is temporary and is related to fluid in the middle ear. This is both treatable and reversible. Many times the fluid resolves spontaneously, but when this does not occur, a simple solution- the insertion of ear tubes - can resolve the problem. Other types of hearing loss can be permanent, but may still be treatable. Studies indicate a variance on the prevalence of newborns with congenital hearing loss, but it may be as high as 4-6 infants per 1000 births, making hearing loss the number one birth defect in America. The state of Texas mandates newborn hearing screening, which identifies most children with this type loss. Occasionally, children with genetic hearing loss may escape detection until later in life. More information.
Symptoms and Testing
In pre-lingual children, hearing loss is usually manifested by the delay or lack of speech development. More information. In older children, it can manifest in many ways, including behavioral changes. If it is a subtle hearing loss, it may not be noticed by the parents and it may exist for years before it is detected. Subtle, undetected losses can influence a child's education and classroom performance. All children should be screened before starting school, or sooner if there is a suspicion of hearing loss.
Detecting hearing loss in children may require specialized testing. If too young to participate in the hearing test, the child can still be tested but may require sedation. Children who are old enough to participate in testing, as early as 8-9 months of age, can be tested in our soundproof audio booth. Dr. Brooke Casey has over 15 years of experience in testing and diagnosing pediatric patients.
Pediatric hearing loss can be a complex problem and includes hearing loss associated with genetic syndromes. This topic cannot be simply summarized here. If you have concerns about your child's hearing, discuss these with your pediatrician or Dr. Michael Bryan or Dr. Amy Mettman.