Causes and Signs of Pediatric Hearing Loss


doctor checking ears of a young little girl

Although hearing loss is often associated with older adults, hearing loss in children is more common than you might think. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 2 to 3 children out of every 1,000 is born with hearing loss in one or both ears. And for many others, hearing loss may develop as a result of a wide variety of factors. 

For parents that suspect that their child may be displaying hearing loss symptoms, it can be worrisome to consider how the issue may affect their long-term development. And while it’s true that children with hearing loss can experience numerous challenges in the process of developing speech, social skills, and language, there is good news: with a prompt diagnosis and early intervention, children can be properly supported with the right treatment.

Like other aspects of a child’s growth, development, and health, their hearing should be monitored and checked on an ongoing basis. By understanding the signs and causes of hearing loss in children, you can be better prepared to take a proactive role. At Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center, our highly-trained audiologists have worked closely with countless families navigating the challenge of childhood hearing loss. We’ve learned that for many parents, it can be challenging to find a reliable source of information about hearing loss in kids. In order to better support and educate parents, we’ve created a useful guide with everything you need to know about the symptoms, causes, and potential treatment and intervention options.

What Exactly is Hearing Loss?

As summarized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, hearing loss occurs when any part of the ear is not properly functioning. These parts can include:

  • The inner ear
  • The outer ear
  • The middle ear
  • The auditory system
  • The hearing (acoustic) nerve

For children, hearing loss can have an extremely significant effect on their development. Because hearing is critical to so many important skills and milestones, many of which are developed before the age of 5, undiagnosed hearing loss can majorly impact a child. 

Types of Hearing Loss

There are many different kinds of hearing loss in children, each generally stemming from a specific cause. The primary types of hearing loss are:

  • Conductive hearing loss, which results from something blocking the transmission of sound to the child’s inner ear. Ear infections commonly cause conductive hearing loss in babies and younger children, and this type is usually temporary, very mild, and reparable with surgery or medicine.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is typically caused by damage or a structural problem with the inner ear. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent and can be inherited, or be produced by certain medical conditions. Sensorineural hearing loss can range from mild to profound, and may be in one ear or both ears.
  • Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Central hearing loss is a rare type, triggered by problems within the parts of the brain associated with hearing.

Signs of Hearing Loss in Babies, Toddlers, and Children

It’s not always obvious that a child is dealing with hearing loss, and every child may display varying signs and symptoms. However, there are a few common signs of hearing loss that you can watch for at differing ages.

Signs of Hearing Loss in Babies

  • Doesn’t startle or respond to loud noises.
  • After 6 months of age, does not turn their head to look for the source of a sound.
  • Does not turn head when you call his or her name.
  • Appears to hear some sounds, but cannot hear others.
  • Does not babble or make “baby noises.”

Signs of Hearing Loss in Toddlers

  • By 1 year of age, doesn’t say single words such as “mama” or “dada.”
  • Does not progress from babbling to more understandable words.
  • Does not search for the source of sounds.
  • Does not respond when spoken to.
  • Has significantly delayed speech, or speech that is difficult to understand.

Signs of Hearing Loss in Kids

  • Often asks you to repeat yourself, or say “What?” or “Huh?” repeatedly.
  • Does not follow directions, or appears to ignore you when you are speaking.
  • Often turns the TV volume up extremely high.
  • Becomes frustrated when there is a lot of background noise.
  • Has difficulty in school or with social situations.

Possible Causes of Hearing Loss in Kids

There are many different reasons for hearing loss in children, with a variety of factors that can impact hearing from birth all the way to adulthood. Some of the factors that may put a child at a higher risk of hearing loss include:

  • A genetic (congenital) cause, such as family members with hearing loss or a genetic syndrome. Approximately 50 percent of hearing loss in babies is related to varying genetic causes.
  • Infections or illnesses experienced by the mother during pregnancy
  • Complications after birth
  • Head trauma or other injuries
  • Medical conditions, including neurological disorders
  • Infection, such as meningitis or ear infection
  • Exposure to extremely high noise levels on a recurring basis

Unfortunately, the CDC states that for up to 25 percent of babies with hearing loss, the cause cannot be determined.

Screening and Diagnosis of Childhood Hearing Loss

Typically, a basic hearing test is conducted before a newborn is discharged from the hospital after birth. However, ongoing screenings are important to quickly diagnose hearing problems in children – especially those that develop during the early years critical to development.

A professional audiologist trained in pediatric hearing evaluations can conduct a hearing screening for your child, using a variety of methods to detect and diagnose a hearing problem. The approach to testing will depend largely on your child’s age, but evaluations are always non-invasive.

Intervention Services and Treatment for Hearing Loss in Kids

If your child is diagnosed with hearing loss, your audiologist (along with your pediatrician and other specialists) will generally recommend specific treatments or intervention services. Some examples of hearing loss treatments for children include:

  • Medicine 
  • Surgery
  • Family support services
  • Communication alternatives, such as sign language
  • Technological support, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants

Get Pediatric Hearing Evaluations in Laredo, TX at Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center!

If you are concerned that your child may be displaying signs of hearing loss or are interested in getting more information about potential treatment options, Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center can help. We understand that facing the possibility of your child struggling with hearing loss can be extremely difficult, often leaving you feeling confused, concerned, and unsure about your next steps. Our experienced, compassionate team can guide you through the process of screening, diagnosis, and intervention so that you are well-prepared to make informed decisions for your child’s future.

Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center facilitates pediatric hearing tests in Laredo, ensuring that both parents and children feel comfortable and well-cared for every step of the way. Our audiologists are trained to assess children of all ages and utilize highly-advanced methods and equipment to evaluate infants, toddlers, and older children properly.

Get the answers you need with a pediatric hearing evaluation for your child at Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center. For more information about what to expect during a hearing evaluation or to schedule your child’s appointment, please contact our office today.


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Oliveira Audiology & Hearing

7917 McPherson Road, Suite 207 Laredo, Texas 78045

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