Yes, your baby might have a risk of developing hearing loss even before birth! While some causes aren’t quite preventable, some others can really be prevented and are completely in your hands. Many a time the cause of hearing loss in the baby in your womb is due to a lack of carefulness and caution. You as a mother must make it a point to take care of your baby in every possible way. Always remember, a healthy you mean a healthy baby!

However, simply talking about the mother’s health would be wrong. The health of the father matters equally and therefore, both the parents must follow healthy habits to avoid any complications of the baby - including hearing. Because leading a healthy lifestyle is key to protect your child’s hearing health, which is much better than hearing loss treatment. Always keep this in mind that if a baby is born with permanent hearing impairment, no treatment of hearing loss can ever replace it with the natural hearing of an individual.

Let Not Your Unborn Baby Suffer

Factors Affecting Hearing Health in the Fetus

Certain health conditions of the mother do affect the hearing health of the child during pregnancy. For instance, suppose if a mother has some infections, then certain viruses or infections can get transferred down to the fetus. However, apart from health conditions, there are certain unhealthy habits that might damage the hearing of your baby, such as smoking, alcohol intake, not maintaining a proper and balanced diet, and other such detrimental lifestyle habits. Let’s have a look at how these habits or health conditions hamper the hearing development of the fetus.

 

Unhealthy Habits

  • Smoking and Intake of alcoholic beverages - Toxins from cigarettes and alcoholic drinks are very harmful to hearing as well as the overall health of the child. These substances reduce the cell formation of the fetus which affects the hearing organs, which remain underdeveloped for life. The child in such a case is born with fewer auditory sensory cells than its peers with normal hearing development, thus increasing the risks of hearing loss caused due to noise exposure or aging.

  • Not following a balanced and healthy diet - Malnutrition leads to the underdevelopment of the fetus - including hearing. If a woman doesn’t maintain a good and healthy diet as advised by the doctor, the hearing organs and cells won’t develop properly, thereby increasing the risks of hearing loss both during the fetus stage and after birth.

  • Exposure to loud noises - Even in the mother’s uterus, the baby is highly vulnerable to noise. The hearing mechanism of the fetus is fully developed after 20 weeks of conception and is quite unprotected. If a woman is exposed to high decibels of noise for most of the day or for a significant amount of time, it is highly possible that her baby will be born with noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Studies show that exposure to loud noises during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery. Also, increased noise levels can cause stress which can cause changes in a pregnant woman's body. This can affect her developing baby in her womb. It is because sound can travel through your body and reach your unborn baby. Although this sound will be muffled in the womb, very loud noises might still be able to damage your baby's hearing even in the pre-natal stage.

 

Health Conditions

  • Rubella (German Measles) - It is an infection that affects the skin and lymph nodes and is caused by a virus. If a pregnant woman is affected by the infection, then it can have serious effects on the child, thus affecting the hearing health of the baby.

  • Measles - This can spread easily, causing rash, fever, cough and hearing loss.

  • Herpes - Studies show that four out of five children born of mothers infected with the herpes virus during early pregnancy might develop hearing loss.

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) - This is a common virus that can pass over to the fetus from an infected pregnant woman. This is known as congenital CMV which is a leading cause of non-genetic hearing loss, thus affecting speech and language developmental skills.

  • Toxoplasmosis - This infection, often caused by undercooked meat or touching cat poop, causes problems like headaches, body aches, fever, fatigue and hearing loss.

Sadly, some congenital hearing loss (which is present at birth) cannot be prevented. However, following a proper and well-planned hearing loss treatment schedule can help you manage your child’s hearing loss better - especially in the generation of a technological boom. Today’s advanced hearing loss treatment methods like the updated digital hearing aid machine and cochlear implants can help your child develop speech and language skills on time at par with the developmental milestones.

To learn more about factors causing hearing loss during pregnancy, visit this link: https://www.hear-it.org/Protect-your-unborn-baby-against-hearing-loss

 

How to Prevent Your Baby from Developing Hearing Loss?

Now that you are aware of the possible factors affecting the hearing health of your baby in your womb, let’s talk about some preventive measures that can help you protect your child’s hearing health.

  • Quit smoking immediately. Not only you as a pregnant woman should quit smoking (if you have the habit), but you must also ask your family members in your home or other people you are living with to do so - because second-hand smoking is much more dangerous. Motivate them to quit smoking and make them realise that it is harmful to your baby. Every individual must keep this in mind and be responsible.

  • No alcohol intake. Similar is the case with alcoholic drinks. Quit them during pregnancy. It is harmful to both your baby and yourself.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

  • Maintain a proper and balanced diet. Talk to your paediatrician or a mother and child healthcare specialist about the good foods and the bad ones. Also discuss your health conditions (if any), so that he or she might set a proper diet chart for you.

  • Avoid being exposed to loud noises. If you have the habit of listening to loud music for hours together, then it’s high time that you must drop it at once! Yes, of course, you will listen to music - it is good for your health as it brings mental peace and calm. But if you do so for hours without a break or without controlling the volume, even that soothing music might turn dangerous for your baby! Make it a habit to reduce the timing and volume of the music.

  • Treat any health condition or infectious diseases at once. Being an expecting mother, never delay or ignore any health issue. Get proper treatment right away. Certain diseases or infections can be carried down to the fetus and might affect its hearing.

  • Avoid taking ototoxic medications.  Certain medications are toxic for the fetus. Consult your doctor and child specialist before taking any medicine.

Prevention is better than any hearing loss treatment. A little care makes a huge difference!

Are you aware of any other causes or preventive measures to protect your baby’s hearing during pregnancy? Tell us in the comment box below.

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