WHO report, "Childhood hearing loss: act now, here’s how", suggests that 60% of childhood hearing losses can be prevented. It also highlights that if hearing loss is detected early enough and if children receive the care they need, they can reach their full potential.
“A child who struggles to hear may also struggle to learn to speak, underachieve in school and end up socially isolated,” says Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department for Management of Non Communicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.
“But this doesn’t have to happen. We have a range of tools to help prevent, detect and treat childhood hearing loss,” he said.
Causes of hearing loss in children
There are many causes of childhood hearing loss. WHO estimates that 40% is attributable to genetic causes; 31% to infections such as measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis and 17% to complications at birth, including prematurity, low birth weight and neonatal jaundice. In addition, an estimated 4% results from expectant mothers and new-borns unknowingly using medicines which are harmful to hearing.
Preventing childhood hearing loss
To prevent childhood hearing loss, immunizing children against diseases and regulating certain medicines and noise levels is vital.
To prevent and treat hearing loss in children, WHO suggests in their report:
- Early identification of children with hearing loss
- Provision of hearing devices and other communication therapies for children with hearing loss
- Hearing care training for health professionals
- Raising public awareness about ear and hearing care
The WHO report includes case studies from Cambodia, Canada, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vietnam and the United States.