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Wearing hearing aids has been such a positive experience for Marie Redfern, she wants to encourage others with hearing loss to try them, too. Your experience can provide helpful information to someone looking for a great hearing care provider, reward a clinic for taking good care of their patients and create a sense of community where you live. Before we examine the implications of this promising development, let's look at what is going on deep inside our ears and what role those miniscule hairs play in our hearing.
Unlike the hair that grows on our heads, the hair in our inner ears is not visible to a naked eye, but it has a very important function in our ability to hear. Scientists agree that the key to reversing hearing loss - as well as a wide range of diseases that are currently deemed incurable -lies in human stem cells derived from embryos that have been fertilized in vitro and used for research purposes with consent of the donors. In this country, this issue remains controversial, even though President Obama lifted the longstanding ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. That is just one of several studies carried out in various countries that found that stem cells are instrumental in curing deafness. The latest evidence comes from the Stanford University School of Medicine, where a team of researchers started out with the idea that if they could create hair cells in the laboratory from stem cells, better treatments for deafness and hearing loss would follow.
Stefan Heller, PhD, professor of otolaryngology at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a leader in stem cell-based research on the inner ear, found a way to develop mouse cells that look and act just like the animal's inner-ear hair cells. Eventually, scientists will need human hair cells to experiment on so they can perfect their formula for hair regeneration in the inner ear.
Other studies, conducted over the years by the NIH, also suggest that hair cells could be, contrary to earlier assumptions, regenerated.
An experiment was performed using guinea pigs and gene therapy developed in previous studies. This means that possibly not one, but a combination of therapies, could be used in the future to restore hearing. Admittedly, it is too early to draw any conclusions and it is fair to say that we are still years away from hearing regeneration. Even if a child has passed a hearing screening before, it is important to look out for the following signs. Children should have their hearing tested before they enter school or any time there is a concern about the childa€™s hearing. A genetic cause: About 1 out of 2 cases of hearing loss in babies is due to genetic causes.
1 out of 4 cases of hearing loss in babies is due to maternal infections during pregnancy, complications after birth, and head trauma.


If you think that your child might have hearing loss, ask the childa€™s doctor for a hearing screening as soon as possible. If your child does not pass a hearing screening, ask the childa€™s doctor for a full hearing test as soon as possible. If your child has hearing loss, talk to the childa€™s doctor about treatment and intervention services. Hearing loss can affect a childa€™s ability to develop speech, language, and social skills. The graphic points out that the four main ways people lose their ears are through listening to loud music, spending too much time in an industrial work place with power drills and the like, being exposed to the sounds of a racetrack, and being exposed to the sounds of guns firing for long periods of time. So the focus of hearing health professionals and advocates has always been on prevention (avoiding or reducing harmful environmental noises) and treatment (getting fitted with hearing aids).
This breakthrough could lead to significant advances to cure deafness and hearing loss in the future. Located in a portion of the ear's cochlea called the organ of Corti, the sensitive hairs are small sensory cells that process and transmit sound to the brain.
Over the course of our lives, these hair cells get damaged and die – for example, because of the aging process, toxic drugs, or prolonged exposure to loud environmental noises- causing varying degrees of irreversible hearing loss. And that's where the new breakthroughs offer glimmers of hope to approximately 33 million Americans currently suffering from hearing loss, and an estimated 500 million worldwide.
British scientists discovered a way to turn stem cells into ones that act like hair cells, which could be surgically inserted into the ear to restore hearing. For example, in the 2007 study called "Hair Cell Regeneration and Hearing Loss," the NIH scientists destroyed hair cells in the inner ear of mice, causing deafness. Again, the supporting cells migrated, but this time partially restored the hearing, indicating that gene therapy could improve hearing in formerly deaf animals. However, we are a step closer than we were in the past, and in that sense, this is a positive development. This includes the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, hearing (acoustic) nerve, and auditory system. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss. A delay in any of these milestones could be a sign of hearing loss or other developmental problem.
Children who do not pass the hearing screening need to get a full hearing test as soon as possible.


Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way. Some babies with a genetic cause for their hearing loss might have family members who also have a hearing loss.
Visit the National Institutes of Healtha€™s website to learn more about preventing noise-induced hearing loss. The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential. In fact, according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), more than 90 percent of hearing loss is due to destruction of hair cells or auditory nerve cells. In fact, further tests show that mice cells responded to vibrations in a similar way to hair cells in the (human) inner ear.
However, the mice's supporting cells spontaneously "migrated to the hair cell region and began growing hair bundles on their surfaces," the researchers reported. Visit our web page to see milestones that children should reach from 2 months to 5 years of age. If a baby does not pass a hearing screening, it's very important to get a full hearing test as soon as possible, but no later than 3 months of age.
There are many different types of communication options for children with hearing loss and for their families. About 1 out of 3 babies with genetic hearing loss have a a€?syndrome.a€? This means they have other conditions in addition to the hearing loss, such as Down syndrome or Usher syndrome.
If you are a parent and you suspect your child has hearing loss, trust your instincts and speak with your childa€™s doctor. We have 15,000 hair cells, but they can deteriorate rapidly if people consistently place themselves in situations where hazardous noise is present. Over 50 million Americans suffer from a disease called Tinnitus, which is a non-stop ringing in the ears that results from prolonged exposure to loud sounds.The right bar of the graphic discusses how to protect your ears.




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