High Risk Indicators of Hearing Loss

There are certain indicators that put children at risk for hearing loss that is present at birth, can develop later, or be acquired (Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, 2000). However, 50% of children with permanent hearing loss have no apparent risk indicators, which is why newborn hearing screening is important.

When children with hearing loss have no obvious risk indicators, the hearing loss is typically genetic in origin. If your child has a permanent hearing loss, your child’s otologist will guide you through the medical and genetic evaluations that determine the cause or causes of hearing loss.

The following are Risk Indicators for hearing loss in infants and toddlers from birth through 28 days and from 28 days through 2 years of age.

Neonates From Birth Through 28 Days

  • An illness or condition requiring admission of 48 hours or greater to a NICU
  • Stigmata or other findings associated with a syndrome known to include a sensorineural and or conductive hearing loss
  • Family history of permanent hereditary childhood sensorineural hearing loss
  • Craniofacial anomalies, including those with morphological abnormalities of the pinna and ear canal
  • In-utero infection such as cytomegalovirus, herpes, toxoplasmosis, or rubella

Infants Aged 29 Days Through 2 Years

  • Stigmata or other findings associated with a syndrome known to include a sensorineural or conductive hearing loss or eustachian tube dysfunction
  • Family history of permanent hereditary childhood hearing loss 
  • In-utero infections such as cytomegalovirus, herpes, rubella, syphilis, and toxoplasmosis
  • Parental or caregiver concern regarding hearing, speech, language, and/or developmental delay
  • Post-natal infections associated with sensorineural hearing loss including bacterial meningitis
  • Neonatal indicators, specifically hyperbilirubinemia at a serum level requiring exchange transfusion, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn associated with mechanical ventilation, and conditions requiring the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Syndromes associated with progressive hearing loss such as neurofibromatosis, osteopetrosis, and Usher’s syndrome
  • Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Hunter syndrome, or sensory motor neuropathies, such as Friedreich’s Ataxia and Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome
  • Head trauma
  • Recurrent or persistent otitis media with effusion for at least three 3 months