Newborn hearing loss is not uncommon and is largely avoidable. According to recent reports, almost four in every one thousand infants are born with some kind of hearing damage, which can have drastic affects on their development later in life. The ear is a complex organ that is mostly developed while the child is still in the womb. Unfortunately, like other sensory organs, during the early development of the ear the child may is vulnerable to many outside factors. This article outlines what those factors are and what parents can do to protect the hearing of their unborn child.
Alarmingly, newborn hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects and affects around four in everyone one thousand infants. Furthermore, only half is caused by some form of genetic loss of hearing, meaning that the other half of all other cases are avoidable. There are three primary causes of newborn hearing loss; smoking and drinking, excessive exposure to noise and contact with the cytomegalovirus. By avoiding these factors and taking precautions, the risk of newborn hearing loss is greatly minimised.
Smoking and Drinking
Pregnant woman should avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or smoking during their pregnancy. A Swedish survey recently reported that the toxins found in cigarettes and alcohol hamper the formation of cells in the foetus, which in turn affects the development of the hearing organ. Newborns that have been exposed to these toxins are likely to have undersized organs for their entire life, resulting in hearing loss. Furthermore, exposed children are also likely to be born with a decreased amount of auditory sensors, meaning that they are more likely to suffer from age related hearing loss earlier in life.
Exposure to Noise
An expectant mother should limit the time spent in environments with excessive noise to lower the risk of newborn hearing loss. For the first twenty weeks of pregnancy the foetus is not fully developed and is therefore highly sensitive to noise. Excessive exposure to noise can also lead to preterm delivery.
Cytomegalovirus is a common herpes virus that is found in more than half of the population, although it rarely causes symptoms in adults with a healthy lifestyle. Because of this the virus largely goes undetected, and can cause serious problems like newborn hearing loss if it is transmitted from mother to child during the first trimester. The foetus goes through its primary developmental stage between three and ten weeks, which can make the ears particular sensitive to any viral infections. Frequent had washing can help stop the transmission of the virus from person to person. It’s best to check with your doctor on other precautionary methods to minimise newborn hearing loss.