Hearing loss in children can be categorised into two types – congenital (present or soon after birth) and acquired (occurring after birth). Some the most common causes of hearing loss in children can include:
Otitis media (a group of inflammatory diseases of the middle ear) – Middle ear infections can occur with young children when the Eustachian tubes connecting the middle ear to the nose don’t fully form. It is a common childhood complaint often associated with temporary or fluctuating hearing loss. This in turn can affect a child’s learning and development. Otitis media is usually easily treatable but occurrences are significantly higher among Indigenous children, for whom it represents a serious health and educational problem.
Problems with birth – In Australia, between nine and 12 children per 10,000 live births will be born with a moderate or greater hearing loss in both ears. Around another 23 children per 10,000 will acquire a hearing impairment that requires hearing aids by the age of 17 through accident, illness or other causes. Each year, Australian Hearing fits about 2000 children with hearing aids for the first time.
Sometimes a child can be born with a hearing problem. This can happen when a pregnant woman has a medical condition such as preeclampsia or diabetes. When a baby is born prematurely they are also at a higher risk of having hearing problems.
Injury or Illness – Illnesses such as chickenpox, measles, meningitis, encephalitis or the flu can cause hearing loss in young children. Some medications, loud noises and head injuries can also be the cause of hearing loss.
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