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Invited Commentary
September 2017

Variations in the Prevalence of Hearing Loss in Children: Truth or Artifact?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;143(9):935-936. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2017.1172

Epidemiologic estimates of the prevalence of childhood hearing loss (HL) are important to public health and policy for a host of reasons. On the public health front, estimating the disease and disability burden of HL influences priorities in health care and research, determines whether prevention strategies are effective, and tracks longitudinal progression vs new onset of HL in the population. On a policy level, knowing the prevalence of HL in children helps policymakers allocate resources needed in the schools to rehabilitate and accommodate children and adolescents with HL, as mandated by the Individuals with Disability Education Act part C, and contributes to understanding the overall societal cost as children with HL grow into adulthood. However, epidemiological studies have reported large differences in the prevalence of childhood HL over time, from approximately 1 in 1000 to 19.5%.1,2

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