Unfortunately, many infants are born with a variety of issues such as congenital abnormalities of the ear or cleft palates. Even when children are born without these issues, they can still develop other health conditions and illnesses as they become older.
On an annual basis, approximately 40,000 babies are born with sensorineural hearing loss. It is estimated that for every 1,000 newborns, one will have some type of issue with his or her hearing.
There are three factors that tend to contribute to 30% of the hearing loss:
- Infections during pregnancy
- Environmental causes
- Birth complications
Other factors that contribute to a child’s hearing loss may be genetic. This accounts for 50%-to-60% of children with hearing issues.
Another congenital issue that occurs in approximately 80% of children is aural atresia. This abnormality usually occurs on one side, and is due to the ear canal not forming properly. In this situation, there isn’t an opening from the outside ear leading to the hearing bones.
There is a 85%-to-90% success rate with surgeries to repair eardrums.
By the time children are two years old, over 90% will have had at least one ear infection. By the time they are three years old, 83% will have had at least one ear infection, and 30% will have had three or more.
Cleft Lips and Cleft Palates
Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, it is estimated that 2,650 babies are born in the United States with a cleft palate. There are also 4,440 babies born every year with a cleft lip. In some cases they may also have a cleft palate.
While surgery to repair a cleft lip is recommended before they have reached one year, it is often performed within the first few months after they are born. Cleft palate repair is recommended by the time a child is 18 months old or sooner.
Sleep Disordered Breathing
Approximately 10%-to-12% of children snore, and it is quite common. However, in addition to snoring, 1%-to-3% of children will also have sleep disordered breathing. Furthermore, around 2%-to-4% will have obstructive sleep apnea.
One of the causes of sleep-disordered breathing may be enlarged tonsils. Children were almost four times as likely to have breathing issues when this was the case.
Recent government figures indicate that there are 300,000-to-400,000 children and adolescents receiving tonsillectomies on an annual basis. Girls tend to have tonsillectomies twice as much as boys, while boys tend to have 1.5 times as many adenoidectomies.
Currently, 20% of tonsillectomies are performed due to recurring infections, while 30 years ago, 90% were performed for this reason. Obstructive sleep problems account for 80% of current tonsillectomies.
When children have any of the issues above, it’s important to visit an ear, nose, and throat doctor for treatment. Taking children in for wellness check-ups to assist with preventative care is also important.