Children who are hard of hearing or deaf are likely to have been hard of hearing since birth (47%) according to a survey conducted by Gallaudet University in Washington. In about 40% of the cases, the cause of the hearing loss present at birth, is not known or not reported. The impairment may be inherited. This is the case in about one third of the instances of hearing loss present at birth. Pregnancy/birth complications such as Rh incompatibility, prematurity, and birth trauma are the cause in 20 % of the cases.
Some children become hard of hearing or deaf after birth. The study found this to be the case for 24% of the children suffering from hearing loss. The most common cause for hearing loss after birth is meningitis; this accounts for one out of three cases of hearing loss after birth.
For the remaining 29% of the young people in the survey, the time of the onset was not known or not reported.
The figures can be found in the 1992-93 Annual Survey of hearing-impaired Children and Youth, Center for Assessment and Demographic Studies, Gallaudet University, USA.
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