Causes of Hearing Loss


Over 30% of childhood hearing loss is caused by diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella meningitis, and ear infections. Most of these can be prevented through immunization and implementation of good hygiene practices.

Another 17% of childhood hearing loss results from complications at birth, including prematurity, low birth weight, birth asphyxia, and neonatal jaundice. As maternal and child health practices improve, this percentage could lessen, as improved practices could help to prevent these complications. Additionally, avoiding the use of ototoxic medicines in expectant mothers and newborns (approximately 4% of childhood hearing loss), could decrease hearing loss numbers.

Although the percentages are important in understanding the causes (etiology) of hearing loss, it is important to remember that the individual is more than their hearing loss. Hearing loss is part of their unique experience. Treating each individual based on that uniqueness is important. Presentation of hearing loss is so varied in the mixture of origin, age, progression, family, and support, that it is usually agreed that no two individuals with hearing loss are the same. Identifying causes is a part of understanding the individual, but ultimately, the individual before you is ultimately not an object to label, but a person to love.


Signs There May Be Hearing Loss

During the first year of a baby’s life their hearing will continue to develop. As your baby is growing, look for the following signs that may indicate hearing problems:

  • Does not startle at loud noises.
  • Does not turn to the source of a sound after 6 months of age.
  • Does not say single words, such as "dada" or "mama" by 1 year of age.
  • Turns head when he or she sees you but not if you only call out his or her name. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.
  • Seems to hear some sounds but not others.

As your child moves on to school-age, look for the following signs that may indicate a hearing problem has developed:

  • Speech is not clear.
  • Does not follow directions. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.
  • Often says, "Huh?"
  • Turns the TV volume up too high.