19 December 2005

Hearing loss more widespread among those less well off

Families living in poverty are at higher risk at having children with hearing loss. The rate of children born with hearing loss is almost four times higher among poverty stricken families than in well off families, according to a Scottish study among 105,000 children.

Families living in poverty are at higher risk at having children with hearing loss. The rate of children born with hearing loss is almost four times higher among poverty stricken families than in well off families, according to a Scottish study among 105,000 children.

The children were divided into seven different socio-economic groups. A clear correlation was found between poverty and congenital hearing loss. In the lowest family income group, 1,72 children in 1,000 were born with hearing loss. In the highest socio-economic group, just 0,47 children in 1,000 were born with hearing loss.

The researchers provide two possible explanations. In low-income families more children are born prematurely and suffer from low birth weight. Subsequent treatment of these children may adversely affect their hearing.

Children in poor families may also be at increased risk of congenital hearing loss because hearing impairment is more prevalent in poor families.

The discovery of hearing loss in the children and the age when they first receive hearing aids does not vary by socio-economic group.

The researchers behind the study recommended that services for hearing impaired people pay particular attention to the needs of those least well off.

Source: Is deafness a disease of poverty? The association between socio-economic deprivation and congenital hearing impairment, International Journal of Audiology.

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