Causes of Hearing Loss in Infants

23 January 2017 - By GENWORKS

Although it is not common, some infants may have some 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. It may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Profound hearing loss is what most people call deafness.
• Sometimes, hearing loss gets worse over time. Other times, it stays stable and does not get worse.

Risk factors for infant hearing loss include:

• Family history of hearing loss
• Low birth weight

Hearing loss may occur when there is a problem in the outer or middle ear. These problems may slow or prevent sound waves from passing through. They include:

• Birth defects that cause changes in the structure of the ear canal or middle ear
• Buildup of ear wax
• Buildup of fluid behind the eardrum
• Injury to or rupture of the eardrum
• Objects stuck in the ear canal
• Scar on the eardrum from many infections

Another type of hearing loss is due to a problem with the inner ear. It may occur when the tiny hair cells (nerve endings) that move sound through the ear are damaged. This type of hearing loss can be caused by:

• Exposure to certain toxic chemicals or medicines while in the womb or after birth
Genetic disorders
• Infections the mother passes to her baby in the womb (such as toxoplasmosis, measles, or herpes)
• Infections that can damage the brain after birth, such as meningitis or measles
• Problems with the structure of the inner ear
• Tumors

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.