Inability to percept sounds and speech due to prenatal defect in auditory organs formation is called congenital deafness. Neonatal screening is a first step of congenital deafness diagnostics. Congenital deafness treatment consists of surgical correction of the prenatal abnormalities. Let us answer such questions as what is the difference between congenital and acquired deafness, why does this condition occur, as well as talk about congenital deafness treatment options in detail below.
Congenital hearing disorder is the loss of hearing which is present from birth or develops later as a result of genetic or external influences that affected the fetus while in the womb.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONGENITAL AND ACQUIRED DEAFNESS
The difference between these two is the period at which the deafness occurs, congenital is right from birth while acquired is some time after birth. However, it is not specified if the cause is genetic.
WHAT CAUSES CONGENITAL DEAFNESS?
Congenital deafness occurs as a result of the external influence on the pregnant woman such as exposure to the rubella virus. It may or may not be genetic, for example, it may be associated with a forelock and different colored eyes caused by a genetic disease called Waardenburg syndrome.
CONGENITAL DEAFNESS SYMPTOMS
The symptoms of congenital deafness depend on its cause, therefore, the possible causes of congenital hearing loss include:
- Intake of ototoxic medication during pregnancy
- Infections during pregnancy (for example, from toxoplasmosis, German measles and the cytomegalovirus)
- Disorder of the brain or nervous system
- Birth complications (for example: serious infection present at birth from toxoplasmosis, herpes, rubella or the cytomegalovirus; a baby requiring neonatal intensive care; a birth weight that’s less than 3 lbs.; an unusual appearance of the baby’s head, face or ears; a baby requiring a blood transfusion; or even drugs that are used for respiratory life-sustaining measures on a premature infant)
- Family history of hearing loss
- Genetic syndromes like Usher’s, Down’s, and Waardenburg’s syndromes
CONGENITAL DEAFNESS TREATMENT OPTIONS
SURGERY TO REPAIR CONGENITAL EAR MALFORMATIONS
Congenital anomalies are as a result of malformations which develop from the growth of the embryo or intrauterine events that affect embryonic and fetal growth. Surgical repair of abnormalities can resolve the problem caused from the deformation of the fusion of the ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm which is vital for the function of the ear.
COCHLEAR IMPLANT SURGERY
In the event of a severe hearing loss problem, there is the option of cochlear implants. Cochlear implant works by compensating for the damaged or non-working parts of the inner ear unlike the hearing aid which amplifies and directs sound into the ear canal. Discussion of risks and benefits should be carried out with the doctor and audiologist if this method is the chosen method of treatment.
DIAGNOSING CONGENITAL DEAFNESS
- Universal Newborn Hearing Screening: This is a screening test performed within the first few days of birth; this is done before the baby is carried home. The screening takes about 15 – 30 minutes and is harmless to the baby.