Pediatrics Hearing loss in Childhood

Hearing Loss

Pediatrics: Testing at Birth to Age Two

Newborns and Infants Up to 2 Years of Age

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)

A series of clicks or tones are produced in the ear canal by a small probe. A microphone within the probe picks up the ear’s response to the sound and sends it to a computer. If the responses are within normal limits, hearing is predicted to be normal or near normal.

Tympanometry

A device changes the pressure within your ear canal and measures how well your eardrum moves in response to the pressure. The purpose of tympanometry is to determine how well the middle ear is functioning and the mobility of the eardrum.

Ear infections are a common problem in children. Ninety percent of children will have at least one infection before the age of six, half before their first birthday. Ear infections are the most common reason antibiotics are prescribed to children. However, ear infections are rare in older children and adults.

Why?

Young children develop ear infections and fluid in the ear because their Eustachian tube is not well developed. The Eustachian tube is a tiny tube that connects the middle ear (the area behind the ear drum) to the back of the nose. It allows air into the middle ear and allows fluid and infection to drain out. In young children, this tube may be very small and may not yet be functioning properly. If that is the case, your child will develop recurrent ear infections or fluid in the ear, which may cause a hearing disturbance. If your child suffers from frequent ear infections (more than 3 in 6 months or 4 in 1 year) or has persistent fluid in the ear, you should ask your pediatrician about seeing an expert in Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat disorders to have their ears and hearing checked. Some children will benefit from having tubes placed in the ear drum to temporarily do the job of the Eustachian tube.

Predisposing Factors for Hearing Loss

Prenatal

- Maternal infections during pregnancy (e.g. cytomegalorvirus, herpes, rubella, syphilis and toxoplasmosis)
- Maternal ingestion of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy
- Familial history of permanent or progressive hearing loss which was present or developed early in life. Newborn (birth - 28 days)
- Familial history of permanent or progressive heraing loss which was present or developed early in life
- Low birth weight (less than 3.5 lbs.)
- Unusual appearance of face and/or ears
- Jaundice (yellow skin) at birth with the necessity of a blood transfusion
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension with mechanical ventilation and requiring the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
- Remained in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 5 days or more.
- Received antibiotic medications through a needle inserted in a vein (intravenous medication)
- Meningitis
- Failed the newborn hearing screening