Mothers take your precautions during pregnancy
It is estimated that half of all pre-natal cases of hearing loss are genetic – that is to say inherited. However, infections such as rubella contracted by the mother during pregnancy or consumption of harmful substances during pregnancy may also lead to hearing loss in an unborn child. After birth, the most common causes of early childhood hearing loss are complications during birth, untreated ear infections, or head injuries. Take your precautions during pregnancy to ensure the best possible start of life for your baby.
Better be on the safe side: ask for a neonatal hearing screening and get your child vaccinated
Some forms of hearing loss, including congenital hearing loss, can be detected within the first few days of birth. The earlier the hearing loss is discovered and audiological care is provided, the greater is the opportunity for your child to acquire spoken language and develop at an age-appropriate rate. Ask for a neonatal hearing screening at the hospital or at your local health center. The clinician should be testing both ears of your child. Also immunization and vaccination from a long list of diseases such as meningitis, mumps and measles can prevent hearing loss in early childhood. Inform yourself about the options for vaccinating your newborn child. Last but not least, the use of some medicine have ototoxic side effects which can lead to irreversible hearing loss. To protect the hearing of your newborn child, make sure only to use these medicines when approved by a doctor.
New research even proves that children who are born with hearing loss or acquire it very early in life and who receive appropriate interventions within six month of age, are at par with their hearing peers in terms of language development by the time they are five.
Source: World Health Organization (WHO).
Limit exposure to noise and purchase quality sound
Avoid spending extended time with your child in very noisy places and make sure that your child is wearing adequate hearing protection at such times. Also be a pro-quiet consumer and inform yourself and look for decibel (dB) ratings when buying toys and other products for your child and your home. As a rule of thumb aim below . Make sure to buy the sound system with the lowest compression and best quality you can afford. Schedule daily acoustic breaks and remember to limit maximum volume to 60% when the equipment is turned on.
Be alert for symptoms and act on suspicion
Knowing the symptoms of childhood hearing loss and staying alert to these are in the interest of your child’s hearing health. Even when your baby is still an infant, you should try to maintain eye contact when speaking to him or her. The feedback from your child should match the surrounding sounds. Furthermore he or she should react to loud noises such as fireworks, dog barking, doors slamming etc. If you suspect your child may have hearing loss or suffer from an ear infection, make sure to get your child tested by a pediatrician, an ear-nose & throat specialist or a pediatric audiologist as soon as possible.
Do you suspect that your child has hearing loss? Find useful information about hearing loss in children here.