Around half the deaf children born in the UK every year are deaf because of a genetic (inherited) reason. Deafness can be passed down in families, even though there appears to be no family history of deafness. For about 70% of these deaf children, no other problems will occur. For the other 30%, the gene involved may cause other disabilities or health problems.
Deafness can also be caused by complications during pregnancy. Infections such as rubella, cytomegalovirus (CMV), toxoplasmosis and herpes can cause a child to be born deaf. There are also a range of medicines, known as ototoxic drugs, which can damage a baby’s hearing system before birth. If you have any concerns or would like to seek further information please refer to the National Deaf Children’s Association.
If your baby has a hearing loss and no other health problems, you don’t need to be doing anything different or special at this time other than lots of visual communication. A loving, nurturing environment is all your baby needs.
For some families when they are told their baby has a hearing loss, the news can come as a great shock. Some parents will be upset by the news, others will be relieved that their suspicions have finally been confirmed. There is no right or wrong way to feel and it’s important to take the time to adjust, to look after yourself and consider how you are feeling.
Types of deafness
There are two types of deafness depending on which part of the ear is not functioning as it should; sensori-neural and conductive.
Sensori-neural deafness occurs when there is a fault in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory (hearing) nerve which carries sound signals to the brain. Sensori-neural deafness is permanent.
Conductive deafness occurs when sound is unable to pass efficiently through the outer and middle ear to the cochlea and auditory nerve. The most common cause of conductive deafness in childhood is glue ear (fluid in the middle ear) and is usually a temporary condition. It can also be caused by a perforation (hole) in the eardrum. Permanent conductive deafness may be present when part of the outer or middle ear did not form properly before birth.
Mixed deafness is a combination of both sensori-neural and conductive deafness. One example of mixed deafness is when someone has glue ear as well as permanent sensori-neural deafness.
It is very important to watch out for mixed deafness. If your child has sensori-neural deafness and they develop glue ear, their hearing may reduce while they have the condition. This may mean that your child can hear fewer sounds or be less aware of background noise.
Hearing aids can be useful for children with any level of deafness and may be recommended for your child so that they have the best chance to hear everything going on in their world.
The type of hearing aid that will be suitable for your child will depend on the type and level of deafness they have. Hearing aids work by amplifying (making louder) sounds going into the ear.
Hearing aids will be programmed to match your child’s deafness. This means that they can help your child to hear everyday sounds but will also make listening to speech as clear and easy as possible.
Hearing aids are offered to children with all types, levels and causes of deafness. Boots provides 5% back for new customers on health purchases.#DeafAwarenessWeek