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Irish Independent - Health & Living - - MIND YOURSELF -

•PRO­TECT­ING your baby’s hear­ing be­gins dur­ing preg­nancy by main­tain­ing good gen­eral health. There are a num­ber of vi­ral in­fec­tions that a preg­nant mother can con­tract, re­sult­ing in her baby be­ing born with a per­ma­nent hear­ing loss. Al­though Cy­tomegalovirus (CMV) is a com­mon virus, con­gen­i­tal CMV in­fec­tions only oc­cur in 0.2pc -2.5pc of live births. •To re­duce the chance of con­tract­ing CMV, women who are preg­nant or con­sid­er­ing preg­nancy should pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to good hand hy­giene, es­pe­cially af­ter chang­ing nap­pies or as­sist­ing with blow­ing noses or toi­let­ing. It is also ad­vis­able to not share food, drinks, eat­ing uten­sils or tooth­brushes with young chil­dren. Com­mon causes of hear­ing loss in ba­bies and chil­dren are oti­tis me­dia (fluid be­hind the ear drum), menin­gi­tis, measles, mumps, oto­toxic med­i­ca­tions, head in­jury and noise ex­po­sure. The most com­mon cause of hear­ing loss in chil­dren is mid­dle ear in­fec­tion (oti­tis me­dia). •Signs to look out for are inat­ten­tive­ness, want­ing the tele­vi­sion louder, mis­un­der­stand­ing, list­less­ness, un­ex­plained ir­ri­tabil­ity and pulling or scratch­ing ears. •Noise ex­po­sure can also re­sult in hear­ing loss and it is im­por­tant to pro­tect your baby and child from harm­ful noises. •If you are wor­ried about your child’s hear­ing, have it as­sessed by a qual­i­fied pae­di­atric au­di­ol­o­gist. •Un­man­aged and un­di­ag­nosed hear­ing loss in chil­dren can re­sult in speech and lan­guage devel­op­ment de­lays as well as im­paired lis­ten­ing skills which can af­fect ed­u­ca­tional per­for­mance.”

Dr San­dra Cum­mings is a Pae­di­atric Au­di­ol­o­gist at Bea­con Au­di­ol­ogy; bea­conau­di­ol­ogy.com

DON’T USE COT­TON BUDS

The Amer­i­can Academy of Oto­laryn­gol­ogy ad­vises against the use of cot­ton buds to clean the ears as “most clean­ing at­tempts merely push the wax deeper into the ear canal, caus­ing a block­age”. The ear is a self-clean­ing or­gan, they add, and ear wax has an­tibac­te­rial and anti-fun­gal prop­er­ties.

If in doubt, just fol­low the age-old med­i­cal adage: if it’s smaller than your el­bow, don’t put it in your ear.

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