Many babies with cleft palate have middle ear fluid at birth or in the newborn period. This fluid affects the baby’s hearing. By the time babies with cleft palates are 9 months old and are ready to have their palate repaired, most will have middle ear fluid and temporary hearing loss.
Why does this happen?
When a child has a cleft palate, some of the muscles that help a tiny tube in the ear to open may not function normally. This tube is called the Eustachian tube.
Many babies with a cleft palate and middle ear fluid will have surgery to put tubes in the ears to drain the fluid and help keep air in the middle ear. The tubes are placed by an Ear Nose and Throat ( ENT) doctor. Usually this surgery is done at the same time the baby is having surgery to repair the palate.
How does middle ear fluid affect my baby’s hearing?
When the middle ear is filled with fluid, the eardrum and the tiny bones in the middle ear can’t move as well as they should. It is harder for the sounds to get to the inner ear and sounds will be muffled. Put your hands over your ears to see what this might sound like.
You baby will have more trouble hearing softer sounds, and louder sounds will sound quieter.
Most babies with middle ear fluid and mild hearing loss will respond to sounds at home.
Middle ear fluid often changes . This means that your baby’s hearing can be better on some days, and worse on others.