Hearing Loss at Birth (Congenital Hearing Loss)

Some babies have hearing loss at birth. Audiologists can test your baby to find out how he or she hears.

Congenital hearing loss means hearing loss that is present at birth. Causes of hearing loss in newborns include:

  • infections, such as rubella or herpes simplex virus
  • premature birth
  • low birth weight
  • birth injuries
  • drug and alcohol use while pregnant
  • jaundice and Rh factor problems
  • maternal diabetes
  • high blood pressure while pregnant, called preeclampsia
  • the baby not having enough oxygen, called anoxia
  • genetics

Genetics is the cause of hearing loss in many babies. Genetic hearing loss can be present at birth or develop later in life. The genes that cause hearing loss can come from one or both parents. You both may hear fine but carry a gene that causes hearing loss in your baby. Or, one of you may have a hearing loss that you pass on to your baby.

Some babies have a genetic syndrome. Hearing loss may be a part of the syndrome. Examples include:

  • Down syndrome
  • Usher syndrome
  • Treacher Collins syndrome
  • Crouzon syndrome
  • Alport syndrome
  • Waardenburg syndrome

Your baby will have his or her hearing tested at the hospital. This newborn hearing screening can help you know how your baby hears.

Learn more about this topic in our Audiology Information Series [PDF].

To find an audiologist near you, visit ProFind.

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