•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.