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Permanent Childhood Hearing Loss

The "prevalence" of permanent childhood hearing loss refers to the number of children who are living with permanent childhood hearing loss at any given time. Estimates of the prevalence of permanent hearing loss in children under 5 vary according to the source of the data and the criteria for defining hearing loss.

  • Most estimates suggest that 1 to 3 per 1,000 children are born with a hearing loss, based on screening and/or medical records (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2009; National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDCD], 2010).
  • Prevalence estimates based on parental surveys tend to be higher. A recent study by the CDC found that parents of 5 out of every 1,000 children felt their child had a hearing loss. It should be noted, though, that that figure was based on children ages 3-17 (Boulet, Boyle, & Schieve, 2009).
  • Higher still are prevalence estimates from neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). A Dutch study of NICU neonates found the prevalence to be 32 per 1,000 (Hille, van Straaten, & Verkerk, 2007).

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