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Tune in to hearing loss

| | Updated on: Mar 04, 2016
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Nearly 32 million children across the world live with disabling hearing loss. And 60 per cent of this can be prevented, says a new World Health Organisation report, “Childhood hearing loss: act now, here’s how”.

If hearing loss is detected early enough, and if children receive the care they need, they can reach their full potential, it says.

“A child who struggles to hear may also struggle to learn to speak, underachieve at school and end up socially isolated,” says Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. But this doesn’t have to happen as there are a range of tools to help prevent, detect and treat childhood hearing loss.

There are many causes of childhood hearing loss. It is estimated that 40 per cent is attributable to genetic causes; 31 per cent to infections such as measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis; and 17 per cent to complications at birth, including prematurity, low birth weight and neonatal jaundice. In addition, an estimated 4 per cent results from expectant mothers and new-borns unknowingly using medicines that are harmful to hearing.

To prevent childhood hearing loss, immunising children against diseases and regulating certain medicines and noise levels are vital.

Early identification of those children with hearing loss helps trigger the needed interventions, such as the provision of hearing devices and other communication therapies.

Hearing screening programmes for infants, and pre-school and school-based children, alongside hearing care training for health professionals, can dramatically improve the lives of children. Such programmes ensure that those in need of specialised care receive the interventions they need to be able to communicate, receive education and gain employment later in life.

Published on January 20, 2018

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