As the world today marks annual advocacy day for hearing loss, a new World Health Organisation (WHO) report has listed ways to prevent and manage the scourge among children.
The report titled “Childhood hearing loss: act now, here’s how”, noted that nearly 32 million children across the world live with disabling hearing loss suggesting that 60 percent of this 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 at school and end up socially isolated,” says Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department for Management of Noncommunicable 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 added.
There are many causes of childhood hearing loss. It is estimated that 40 percent is attributable to genetic causes; 31 percent to infections such as measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis; and 17 percent to complications at birth, including prematurity, low birth weight and neonatal jaundice. In addition, an estimated 4 percent results from expectant mothers and new-borns unknowingly using medicines that are harmful to hearing.
To prevent childhood hearing loss, immunizing children against diseases and regulating certain medicines and noise levels are vital.
According to the report, early detection and identification of children with hearing loss helps to trigger the needed intervention such as provision of hearing devices and other communication therapies.