Image of Dr. Jackie Hudson working with a pediatric audiology patient

Hearing Loss in Children

It can be challenging as a parent if your child as hearing loss, and it can be even more daunting that pediatric hearing loss can lead to developmental delays in language, speech and social skills. That is why selecting a pediatric hospital you can trust is a critical first step to treating your child’s hearing loss.

The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital provides comprehensive and personalized care for children with hearing loss. Our pediatric hearing loss team provides a family-centered approach in a warm and welcoming environment. We have the skill and experience to diagnose and treat everything from common ear infections to complex conditions.

We are also very proud of the Thirty Million Words Center. Led by Dr. Dana Suskind and Dr. John List, the center is at the nexus of hearing health, speech, economics and social science. The principle goal of the center is to study the role that parents and caregivers play in enhancing children’s foundational brain development.

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is more common than parents likely know, and understanding the types and causes of hearing loss in their child is the first step to improving their health.

Conductive hearing loss results from something blocking the sound conducting mechanism of the ear. This can be due to a buildup of earwax, fluid in the middle ear, a growth of tissue (cholesteatoma) or problems with the small hearing bones (ossicles). Treating conductive hearing loss can range from taking antibiotics to surgical intervention depending on the type and severity of the condition.

Sensorineural hearing loss is often considered permanent hearing loss because of nerve or inner ear damage caused by advanced age, continued exposure to loud noises, illness, ear trauma and more. Sensorineural hearing loss is typically addressed with hearing aids, but depending on the severity of your child's hearing loss, may treated through surgical or implantable devices, such as a cochlear implant.

Mixed hearing loss occurs when your child has hearing issues resulting from both conductive and sensorineural causes. With mixed hearing loss, there is typically a combination of issues that impact the outer, middle and/or inner ears.

Risks and Signs of Childhood Hearing Loss

Not every child with hearing loss was at risk, but it is still important to know what can predispose your child to having hearing loss before or after birth. Common risk factors include:

  • Family history of hearing loss (including genetic conditions)
  • Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Hunter syndrome and Friedreich ataxia
  • Syndromes related to hearing loss, such as neurofibromatosis and Ushers syndrome
  • In-womb infections
  • Contracting a disease that can impact hearing loss, including meningitis, chickenpox and rubella
  • Severe head trauma

It can be difficult to identify if your child has hearing loss, but some common signs of hearing loss include:

  • Doesn’t startle at loud noises
  • Doesn’t respond when his or her name is called
  • Is not progressing with speech or language
  • Difficulty following conversations and having issues responding or articulating
  • Is having issues following/understanding lessons at school
  • Turns up the volume of the TV, tablet, cellphone or other digital devices to extremely high levels
  • Suffers from reoccurring earaches and ear pain

Contact your physician if you are worried that your child may be at risk for hearing loss and are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms.

Meet Our Pediatric Hearing Loss Team

Pediatric Audiologists

Samantha Dixon
Dr. Dixon is a pediatric audiologist specializing in diagnostic evaluations (including Auditory Evoked Potentials) and hearing loss interventions, such as hearing aids, osseointegrated devices, and cochlear implantation. She is the coordinator for the Newborn Hearing Program, and audiology coordinator for the Craniofacial/Cleft Lip and Palate team. Dr. Dixon received her Bachelor of Science degree at Florida State University, and her Doctorate of Audiology at Missouri State University. She completed her clinical externship at University of Chicago Medicine. Dr. Dixon provides audiology services at Hyde Park (Tuesday and Thursday) and Orland Park (Wednesday and Friday) locations.
Ali Marquess

Ali Marquess is a pediatric audiologist specializing in diagnostic evaluations (including Auditory Brainstem Response Evaluations) and interventions. Dr. Marquess received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Audiology from Indiana University Bloomington and her Doctorate of Audiology from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She completed her clinical externship here at University of Chicago Medicine. Dr. Marquess provides audiology services for the inpatient population.

Joshua Sevier
Dr. Sevier is a cochlear implant audiologist and the clinical program manager of our hearing loss program. His clinical interests include cochlear implants and providing services via telepractice. He was formerly an assistant professor at a doctor of audiology program where he taught classes and supervised students in the department's cochlear implant program. Dr. Sevier has published numerous articles in peer-review journals and continues research of cochlear implants. He graduated with his Doctor of Audiology degree from Pacific University and completed his clinical fellowship training here at the University of Chicago Medicine. Dr. Sevier is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is a Fellow at the American Academy of Audiology. 
Brittney Sprouse, AuD

Brittney Sprouse, Au.D., is the manager of Audiology and a pediatric audiologist at UChicago Medicine. Dr. Sprouse received her Doctorate in Audiology from the Northeast Ohio Au.D. Consortium (University of Akron) in 2009. Dr. Sprouse is an American Board of Audiology Certified audiologist and holds the Pediatric Audiology Specialty Certification (PASC). Dr. Sprouse’s clinical interests include electrophysiology; cochlear implants; ototoxicity monitoring; management of special populations; outreach and education. She has been actively involved on the state and national level, including 2019 President of the Illinois Academy of Audiology (ILAA), Past President of the Ohio Academy of Audiology (OAA), additional board and committee positions, and is currently on the board of directors for the American Cochlear Implant Alliance (ACIA).

Katie Swail
Dr. Swail is a pediatric audiologist specializing in cochlear implantation and vestibular evaluation. She received her bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and she received her Doctorate of Audiology from Rush University. Dr. Swail completed her audiology externship at University of Chicago Medicine, and continues to be a contributing member of the Pediatric Hearing Loss Team.
Emily Trittschuch

Emily Trittschuh is a pediatric audiologist with special interests in inpatient and newborn hearing, electrophysiology, central auditory processing disorders, and amplification. She received her bachelor of science degree from Purdue University and her Doctorate of Audiology from Rush University in Chicago, IL. Dr. Trittschuh enjoys completing continuing education courses to provide the most up to date testing and recommendations for her pediatric patients.

Pediatric Speech Language Pathologists

Caitlin Egan, MS

Caitlin Egan, M.S., CCC-SLP is a licensed American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in working with children with hearing loss. She has worked at UChicago Medicine and has been a member of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant and Hearing Loss Program since 2019. Her interests include providing comprehensive speech and language interventions in both spoken language and American Sign Language (ASL). She is currently working towards obtaining her credential as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist (LSLS Cert. AVT). Caitlin obtained her Master of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology from Western Illinois University in 2014, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Western Illinois in 2012.

Michelle Havlik

Michelle Havlik, MHS, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert AVT is a licensed American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in listening and spoken language development in children with hearing loss. She has worked at UChicago Medicine and has been a member of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant and Hearing Loss Program since 2009. She became a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist (LSLS Cert. AVT) in 2014 and has been a credentialed Early Intervention Specialist and Evaluator since 2007. She obtained her Master of Health Science degree in Communication Disorders from Governors State University in 2006 and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Elmhurst College in 2001.

Our Pediatric ENT Locations in Chicago and South Suburbs

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The information you provide will enable us to assist you as efficiently as possible. A representative will contact you within one to two business days to help you schedule an appointment.  

To speak to someone directly, please call 1-773-702-1865. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.


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Pediatric Hearing Loss