An estimated 600,000 children in Russia suffer from serious hearing impairment. Accurate statistics do not exist.
A special survey among school aged children in the Moscow region found seven percent of the children suffering from hearing disorders that neither the children nor their parents even suspected. In three quarters of the cases, undetected exudative otitis, an ear infection which cannot be diagnosed in the course of visual examination, was the cause. According to Marina Zagoryanskaya, deputy director of the Russian Federation Labor Ministry Audiology and Hearing Rehabilitation Research Center, the overwhelming majority of children who had to repeat a year in school were hard of hearing.
"Normal children became underachievers only because a timely diagnosis had not been made," Zagoryanskaya told to the Moscow News English language newspaper.
On average, one child in 1,000 is born deaf, some because of gene defects, others for other reasons. In Russia, another one to two in 1,000 suffer hearing loss before they reach the age of two years. 55 % of all cases of newborn deafness or hearing loss result from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, a catastrophic rate, in the opinion of the Russian researchers.
In addition, treatment of pneumonia in at-risk infants with inappropriate medication also results in unnecessary deafness. Whereas the rest of the world is abandoning drugs such as hentamicin, this group of drugs is still available at any Russian pharmacy. According to Georgy Tavartkiladze, director of the Audiology Research Center, they are cheaper than other drugs and widely used in hospitals even though doctors are aware of possible complications.
Source: Moscow News, 7th of May, 2003
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