​How to protect your baby’s and your child’s hearing

Protecting your baby’ s hearing begins during pregnancy by maintaining good general health. There are a number of viral infections that a pregnant mother can contract resulting in her unborn baby being born with a permanent hearing loss. Although Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus, congenital CMV infections only occur in 0.2% -2.5% of live births.

To reduce the chance of contracting the CMV virus, women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should pay particular attention to good hand hygiene, especially after changing nappies or assisting with blowing noses or toileting. It is also advisable to not share food, drinks, eating utensils or toothbrushes with young children.

Common causes of hearing loss in babies and children are otitis media (glue ear), meningitis, measles, mumps, ototoxic medications, head injury and noise exposure. The most common cause of hearing loss in children being middle ear infections or glue ear (otitis media). Signs to look out for are inattentiveness, wanting the television louder, misunderstanding, listlessness, unexplained irritability and pulling or scratching ears.

Noise exposure can also result in hearing loss and it is important to protect your baby and child from harmful noises.

If you are worried about your child’s hearing, have it assessed by a qualified paediatric audiologist. Unmanaged and undiagnosed hearing loss in children can result in a speech and language development delays as well as impaired listening skills which can affect educational performance.

Dr Sandra Cummings /Paediatric Audiologist

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