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Hearing is important for children to develop speech and language skills as they grow. In the past, hearing loss in children often went undetected until the child was around two years old, when it became obvious that the child wasn’t talking yet. Children learn communication by copy the sounds they hear. If they have a hearing loss that is undetected and untreated, they can miss much of the speech and language around them. This results in delayed speech development, social problems and academic difficulties. Hearing loss, in varying degrees, affects two children in every 100 children under the age of Eighteen. Unfortunately, there are very few hearing losses that cannot be helped with modern technology.
Hearing loss in children can be present at birth (congenital) or acquired after birth. The two primary types of hearing loss are:
Hearing loss can also be a mix of both of these types, affecting both the inner ear and outer/middle ear.
Congenital hearing loss means it was present in an infant at birth. There are various causes of congenital hearing loss, though they are not always easily identified. There are both non-genetic and genetic factors that might cause hearing loss.
Non-genetic factors that might cause congenital hearing loss include:
Children can also be affected by acquired hearing loss, meaning it occurs after birth. There are various causes of acquired hearing loss, including:
A perforated eardrum
Otosclerosis or Meniere’s diseases, which are progressive
Infections like meningitis, measles, mumps or whooping cough
Taking ototoxic medications
A serious head injury
Exposure to loud noise, causing noise-induced hearing loss
Untreated or frequent otitis media (ear infections)
Exposure to secondhand smoke
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