In Costa Rica, three children in 2000 are born with a hearing loss. This rate of 1.5 per 1000 is in line with countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. Almost half of the children born with moderate or worse hearing loss receive no help from the authorities. These are among the findings in the first survey of hearing loss children carried out in Latin America. The results of the survey were published in Audiology vol. 30, 2000.
The survey included 12,612 randomly chosen children in second grade of 250 schools across Costa Rica. The survey was carried out in several phases, primarily to determine the total number of children suffering from sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).
The first phase included an audiometric test at the frequencies of 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000 KHz. Six percent of the children were unable to hear sounds at 20 dB, and they were subjected to more thorough testing, producing the following results:
- Almost half of these 6% suffered only temporary conductive hearing loss due to medically treatable infections. According to the researchers, this proves the need for a comprehensive screening programme in the schools.
- In the other half, the researchers found moderate to severe hearing loss in at least one ear of each child. Among these children, three out of four suffered some form of conductive hearing loss and the rest suffered from SNHL.
On this basis the survey found that approximately 1,200 children in Costa Rica suffer from SNHL. Half of these children receive treatment for their condition.
Source: Audiology, 2000; 39(5): 278-83
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