Can pregnant women suffering from severe depression cause deafness of their children? Is there a psychological connection between a mother and her unborn baby which can affect the development of his senses?
In our House Visits activity, I often ask the parents especially the mother, about her perceived cause of her child’s deafness. Most often, they reveal that they suffered German Measles during first trimester of pregnancy or since they have relatives who are also deaf, they identify their child’s deafness as hereditary. Some even shamelessly claim that their children became deaf because of their carelessness and misuse of medicines. But I rarely hear a mother who disclosed her child’s deafness due to her too much depression during pregnancy, until now.
The first time I encountered this situation was when I taught at CAP College School for the Deaf way back 1992. A very good looking young student has no idea why he became deaf. When I met her mother and congratulated her for having a handsome and loving child, she told me that she never expected her son to become deaf. She narrated to me that during her pregnancy, her husband, whom she married just a few months ago, left her for another woman. This devastated her. Her life was in shambles. She was so melancholic. But she never tried to abort her son. In fact, she even nurtured him because she knew that the child will be her only remembrance of her philandering husband. She thought that she might use her son as a leverage in order for her husband to return to her although her husband never came back. Even if what she said was true, I have no idea if that’s the real cause or it’s just one of those myths. Maybe she had other symptoms that she might have forgotten or mistook this with another one.
Fast forward to the present, I again encountered the same situation. Only this time, the husband never left. But the wife wished he had. The father was a very good provider. But it’s the physical and emotional abuses which had a great impact on the worsening condition of the family. When I asked about her son’s cause of deafness, the mother replied with another question. She said she was very much depressed when she was pregnant. Then, she asked, “Was this the cause of my son’s deafness?”
I am no doctor. I’m not an expert on this field. I only responded by saying that I came across the same situation more than a decade ago. This is the second time I heard about it and I don’t even know if that’s the real cause of her son’s deafness. Still she insists that it was the only thing she remembered as the cause of her son’s hearing loss.
In spite of being with the deaf people for nearly two decades, I still don’t know a great deal about them. But I have to equip myself with information in order to better understand them and offer assistance. So, I googled about this and found out that there is such a thing as Psychogenic Hearing Loss. According to Advanceweb.com, this type of deafness
“originates in the mind of an individual and is thereby psychological rather than physiological in nature. The loss may be classified either as intentional and based on underlying motives such as monetary compensation or sympathy needs or unintentional and based on underlying stress or anxiety.”
So there is a scientific evidence that tension or anxiety may lead to hearing loss. However, the study only reveals deafness among children and adults, not babies in their wombs.
Do you know of anyone who had the same situation?