Almost all babies born in the United States receive a hearing test from the hospital or birthing center as a routine part of neonatal care. Sometimes, hearing loss can be hereditary. However, some infant hearing loss is due to infection while in the womb, which can often be prevented. If you're expecting a child or considering starting a family, there are some methods available to help lower the risk for hearing loss inn your infant, ensuring he or she does well on the hearing test.
Stay On Top Of Your Vaccines
Before you choose to have a child, it's important to make sure that you stay up-to-date with all of of your vaccinations. One of the causes of deafness in infants is rubella—also known as the German measles. This virus, if contracted by the mother while the fetus is still in utero, can lead to total deafness in the unborn baby. By making sure you are protected, you can also protect your child.
Because the vaccine for rubella is not safe during pregnancy, you should make sure you are immunized at least one month before conceiving.
Watch What You Eat
Another infection that causes congenital hearing loss is toxoplasmosis. Instead of a virus, toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite, which is most commonly found in:
- uncooked meat
- cooked meat that carries the parasite, like pork
- unclean water
- fecal matter from cats
The best way to protect your fetus during pregnancy is cook meat thoroughly and be sure to only drink water that is clean. Save the rare steak, baby back ribs, and lake water during a camping trip for after you deliver your baby.
Toxoplasmosis can also be caught early by amniocentesis, and treated while in the womb. This is not a standard screening test in most states, so if you suspect you could have been infected, contact your OBGYN in order to rule it out. Early detection and treatment may help to preserve a baby's hearing.
Keep It Clean
The final infection that can lead to hearing loss in the womb is cytomegalovirus (CMV). While you can't always control whether or not you contract this virus, you can help prevent it by being diligent about your hygiene during pregnancy. Get into the habit of:
- never putting anything in your mouth that has been in someone else's mouth. CMV is transmitted by bodily fluids, including saliva.
- washing your hands thoroughly after going to the bathroom, changing a diaper, or wiping a child's nose.
- avoiding contact with the saliva, urine, or fecal matter of other children, even when hugging or kissing them.
By staying on top of vaccines, being careful about your diet, and washing your hands, you can increase the chances of your infant passing his or her hearing test with flying colors. If the test does reveal any problems, make sure to get treatment at a clinic like Hearing Specialists of DuPage. Early, consistent treatment is the best way to avoid long-term problems.