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About 3 Percent of US Children Have Hearing Loss

Separate study finds prevalence of refractive error low in preschool children but may go untreated

TUESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- About 3 percent of children and adolescents in the United States have hearing loss, although definitions of hearing loss vary, according to a study in the April issue of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. In a related study, published in April's Ophthalmology, refractive errors in urban preschoolers, although uncommon, may not be identified and corrected.

Saral Mehra, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues reviewed hearing impairment data in the United States and found that the average incidence of hearing loss in newborns was 1.1 per 1,000, which varied by state (from 0.22 in North Dakota to 3.61 per 1,000 in Hawaii). The prevalence of hearing loss in children and adolescents varied based on the definition of hearing impairment. For greater than 20 decibels, the average prevalence was 3.1 percent based on audiometric screening and 1.9 percent based on self-report. The prevalence of hearing impairment was higher in Hispanic Americans and low-income households, they report.

In the second study, Lydia Giordano, from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues performed cycloplegic autorefraction on 2,546 children (6 to 71 months old). Based on mean spherical equivalent, refractive error, astigmatism and prescribing guidelines, they found that 5.1 percent of the children would have benefited from glasses but only 1.3 percent had been prescribed correction.

"Significant refractive errors are uncommon in this population of urban preschool children," Giordano and colleagues write. "A small proportion of preschool children would likely benefit from refractive correction, but few have had this prescribed."

Abstract - Mehra
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Abstract - Giordano
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