oa South African Medical Journal - Screening for childhood hearing impairment in resource constrained settings : opportunities and possibilities : editorial - : editorial

Volume 105, Issue 11
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Hearing impairment is viewed as the silent epidemic, because of its invisible nature and because routine clinical examinations often fail to detect it. It is the most prevalent sensory disorder in developed countries such as the USA and UK, with at least 1 in every 500 newborns having bilateral permanent hearing impairment. Data on the prevalence of childhood hearing impairment in developing countries are scarce. However, estimates based on pilot studies suggest that childhood hearing impairment may be more prevalent in developing than developed countries. For instance, the prevalence of hearing impairment among neonates was found to be 5.3 - 28/1 000 in Nigeria and 5.0 - 5.6/1 000 in India. In South Africa (SA) it is estimated that at least 6 116 babies are born with permanent bilateral hearing impairment every year. Up to 75% of prelingual hearing impairment has some genetic origin.

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