Although not life threatening, hearing loss is one of the birth defects that present the most far reaching consequences. It will not affect the health of any organ or cause a decrease of the child’s life, but instead it will force a child and later on an adult to function in a world that is designed primarily with hearing individuals in mind.
The presence of hearing loss birth defects will most likely become apparent before you even leave the hospital. Now part of the routine newborn screenings, the ability of an infant to properly hear is tested to help caregivers begin adapting their treatment of the child from the earliest moments possible; this may include the fitting of a child with hearing aids, the enrollment in a sign language class, and also a change of teaching and communication methods with an infant that will rely largely on touch and sight.
Range of Causes
Causes for hearing loss birth defects are not entirely uniform. In some cases the reason for the presence of this abnormality cannot be explained, while in other cases it may be a genetic disorder which may be verified with the help of currently available genetic tests. In some cases, however, these birth defects can be linked back to other causes, some of which could have been avoided.
For example, if an expectant mother is infected with the rubella virus, there is a very real possibility that her child may suffer from a number of birth defects, of which hearing loss is only one. Fortunately, this rubella infection can be avoided with a simple vaccination that a woman may receive at low cost from almost any health care provider. If you are not certain if you have been immunized, discuss this with your physician to see if you can still benefit from the vaccine.
Several venereal disease, most notably syphilis but also a herpes infection, have been linked to the birth of children with hearing loss. If your partner is known to suffer from such a disease, it is important to avoid sexual practices that could expose you and your unborn child to the diseases.
If you are unsure if you have been infected, consult with your physician to see if you can be tested. If you suspect contact with these conditions, immediately discuss this with your doctor to find out if there are ways to minimize any impact on your child.
Toxoplasmosis, the main reason why pregnant women can assign litter box duty for Fluffy to a family member during pregnancy, is another infection that may cause hearing loss birth defects in an unborn child. Testing for this condition is available, as are strict rules for the avoidance of contact with affected substances.
Another reason for the presentation with hearing loss may be the premature birth of a child. While this is not always something that you will be able to control, it is nonetheless important that you inform your doctor of any cramping or bleeding you may experience during pregnancy, all of which could be a sign of premature labor.
When caught early enough, the onset of such labor can be controlled with the help of medication and also bed rest, thus enabling your child to remain within the secure confines of the womb until better equipped to face life outside of your body.