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Hearing Loss Prevention Begins at Birth: What All Parents Should Know

by April Maguire

From prenatal vitamins to baby-proofing, expectant parents have dozens of concerns on their minds. And while hearing problems may not be foremost on your list of worries, the truth is that non-inherited hearing loss in infants is a serious concern. According to recent reports, 10 percent of infants born with the cytomegalovirus infection experience lasting hearing loss. Understanding how CMV is transmitted—as well as the ways to avoid infection—can help you protect your child’s health and hearing in the years to come.

Understanding Hearing Loss in Children

One of the most common non-genetic causes of hearing problems, CMV is a silent but serious condition. While infected adults are typically asymptomatic, pregnant women can pass the condition on to their babies, resulting in an array of serious side effects. In fact 10 percent of babies born with congenital CMV suffer permanent hearing loss along with low birth rate, yellow skin and eyes, enlarged spleens and even pneumonia and seizures.

While there isn’t yet a cure or vaccine to prevent CMV, medical professionals have had some success treating the condition with antiviral drugs. If you believe you may have been exposed to CMV while pregnant, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctors immediately regarding treatment options.

Tips to Prevent Child Hearing Loss

Additionally, expectant parents can take steps to minimize their exposure to the cytomegalovirus. Because adults tend to contract the infection from children’s bodily fluids, it’s important to wash hands thoroughly after the following activities:

  • Bottle feeding
  • Diaper changing
  • Wiping children’s noses and faces
  • Touching toys handled by children

Additionally, pregnant women should refrain from sharing food and drinks with young children. Behavioral changes are currently the most effective ways of safeguarding yourself against this serious infection.

Request That Your Doctor Perform a CMV Screening

A baby born with CMV can suffer a number of negative effects including hearing loss and problems with liver function. As a result, many doctors feel that screening infants for CMV at the time of birth should be mandatory. Because some of the side effects of CMV can pop up later in childhood, it’s also important to continue screening at regular intervals until the age of six. Not all CMV sufferers experience the same symptoms, so it’s crucial to stay alert to all the possible side effects. Request that your pediatrician perform regular CMV screenings and feel confident knowing your child’s health and hearing are protected.

If you or someone you know would like more information about hearing loss, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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