• hearing impaired
    Help for Parents of Children With Hearing Loss
    According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2 to 3 children out of 1,000 in the U.S. are born deaf or hearing impaired. Many hearing impairments are not identified until after the age of 2.  Twenty-two states offer universal newborn hearing screening. This allows diagnosis of hearing loss prior to discharge from the hospital as a newborn. If hearing loss is identified, a confirmation hearing test is performed within weeks. This allows early intervention.

    What Are the Causes of Hearing Loss in Children?

    Children can experience hearing loss due to a variety of causes, including:

    • Otitis media. This middle ear infection occurs often in young children because their Eustachian tubes (the tubes that connect the middle ear to the nose) are not fully developed. Fluid builds up behind the eardrum and can become infected. Even if there is no pain or infection, the fluid can impair hearing if it stays there, at least temporarily. In severe and chronic cases, otitis media can lead to permanent hearing loss.
    • Congenital factors. Some children are born with hearing problems -- either as a result of genetic factors or because of prenatal or childbirth problems. More than half of all congenital hearing problems in children are due to genetics. Hearing loss can also result when a pregnant woman develops certain conditions such as diabetes or toxemia. Premature birth also raises a child's risk for hearing problems.
    • Acquired hearing loss. A variety of conditions can trigger hearing problems in young children, including illnesses such as meningitis, encephalitis, measles, chickenpox, some forms of genetic hearing loss, and influenza. Head injuries, very loud noises, and certain medications can also lead to acquired hearing loss

    Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children

    As a parent, you are likely to be the first person to notice hearing problems in your children. Some early indications of a hearing problem include:

    • Not reacting to loud noises
    • Not responding to your voice
    • Making simple sounds that eventually taper off

    A child with otitis media may also:

    • Pull or rub an ear
    • Be constantly irritable for no apparent reason
    • Become listless or inattentive
    • Not understand directions
    • Often ask for the television or radio to be louder
    • Have a fever
    • Have ear pain

    But remember, otitis media may cause no symptoms.

    Check with your child's doctor if you have any reason to suspect that your child has hearing problems. For more information on how to detect hearing loss, use the checklist created by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/silence.asp.

    Diagnosing Hearing Loss in Children

    Many hospitals routinely screen newborns for hearing impairment. Other hospitals only screen infants who are at risk for hearing impairment, such as those with a genetic tendency for deafness. A number of states have laws that require early hearing screening for all infants. Check with your pediatrician or hospital to find if your child has received a hearing test. If not, see how you can get one.

    Treatment Options for Children With Hearing Loss

    Treatment options for children with hearing loss depend upon the condition and degree of hearing impairment.

    The most common types of treatment for otitis media include:

    • Watchful waiting. Because the condition often clears on its own, sometimes the initial treatment for otitis media is simply to monitor the child for any changes.
    • Medications. Your pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics or other medications for your child.
    • Ear tubes. If the problem persists and seems to be affecting your child's hearing, your pediatricianr may suggest that your child receive ear tubes. These allow fluid to drain and can help prevent infection. If your pediatrician thinks your child needs ear tubes, he or she will refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, also known as an  otolaryngologist. Inserting ear tubes is a minor outpatient surgical procedure, but your child will have to have a general anesthetic in the hospital.

    Other types of treatment for children with hearing loss include:

    • Hearing aids. Children with hearing loss can begin to use hearing aids when they are as young as 1 month old. Your hearing specialist will help ensure that your child is fitted with the most appropriate device.
    • Implants. Many children and adults are now getting cochlear implants, electronic devices that help with hearing. These are usually used for children with serious hearing problems, for whom hearing aids have not been effective.
    • Other hearing devices. There are a number of other devices that can help children with hearing loss with communication and learning. Ask a hearing specialist about other devices that might be appropriate for your child.

    Here are a few things you can do to help your child -- and yourself:

    • Educate yourself. Web sites, as well as government and nonprofit organizations, can help you keep up with the latest developments and research.
    • Communicate. Seek out support groups and online chat communities for parents of children with hearing loss. These groups can provide  information and a sense of community.
    • Stay in touch with your child. According to child development experts, some children with hearing loss feel socially isolated as a result of their hearing impairment. However, early intervention and the use of assistive technologies can reduce the chances of social isolation in children.
    • Take care of yourself and your other relationships. Getting help for children with hearing loss can be an all-consuming task. But don't neglect your own well-being or your other relationships. Make time for each other, stay in touch with friends, and pursue the activities you enjoy.