Hearing Loss - Beyond Early Childhood

Prevalence of hearing loss increases dramatically with age. National survey results show that in the population of those with hearing impairment, only 2% were born with a hearing impairment; 4% to 6% developed a hearing loss after birth and before 6 years; 11% to 12% developed hearing loss between ages 6 and 19 years; 50% to 64% developed hearing loss between ages 20 and 59 years; and 20% to 30% developed hearing loss at or after the age of 60 (data from the National Health Interview Survey, 2007, retrieved from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDCD], 2010).

Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicated that 14.9% of children between 6 and 19 years of age had a hearing loss of at least 16 dB in either low or high frequencies; the majority of these losses were classified as slight (16-25 dB; Niskar et al., 1998). Hearing loss of at least 25 dB at the speech frequencies has been reported in 29% of adults 50-59 years old, in 49% of adults 60-69 years old, and in 63.1% of adults ages 70+ (Agrawal, Platz, & Niparko, 2008; Lin, Thorpe, Gordon-Salant, & Ferrucci, 2011).

  • More than 50% of prelingual deafness is genetic. Of the genetic hearing losses, most (70%) are nonsyndromic and, of these, 75%-85% of cases are autosomal recessive (Smith, Shearer, Hildebrand, & Van Camp, 2014).
  • The most common cause of intermittent, mild-to-moderate acquired hearing loss in infants and young children is conductive hearing loss associated with otitis media.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss is an increasing concern for children and adolescents. Niskar et al. (2001) estimated that 12.5% of U.S. children (ages 6-19) have evidence of noise-induced hearing threshold change.
  • In adults, noise and aging are the primary causes of hearing loss. In the North American World Health Organization (WHO) subregion, 9% of all adult-onset hearing loss is likely attributable to occupational noise. A higher percentage (20%) is attributable to occupational noise for adult males with hearing loss between the ages of 15 and 44 (20%) than for males between the ages of 45 and 79 (2%-14%) and females (1%-9%; Nelson, Nelson, Concha-Barrientos, & Fingerhut, 2005).

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