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The following is an excerpt from the “Deafness & Hearing Loss Fact Sheet” compiled by the World Health Organization. Read the full article here.

Overall, it is suggested that half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures.

In children under 15 years of age, 60% of hearing loss is attributable to preventable causes. This figure is higher in low- and middle-income countries (75%) as compared to high-income countries (49%). Overall, preventable causes of childhood hearing loss include:

  • Infections such as mumps, measles, rubella, meningitis, cytomegalovirus infections, and chronic otitis media (31%).
  • Complications at the time of birth, such as birth asphyxia, low birth weight, prematurity, and jaundice (17%).
  • Use of ototoxic medicines in expecting mothers and babies (4%).
  • Others (8%)

Some simple strategies for prevention of hearing loss include:

  • immunizing children against childhood diseases, including measles, meningitis, rubella and mumps;
  • immunizing adolescent girls and women of reproductive age against rubella before pregnancy;
  • preventing cytomegalovirus infections in expectant mothers through good hygiene; screening for and treating syphilis and other infections in pregnant women;
  • strengthening maternal and child health programmes, including promotion of safe childbirth;
  • following healthy ear care practices;
  • screening of children for otitis media, followed by appropriate medical or surgical interventions;
  • avoiding the use of particular drugs which may be harmful to hearing, unless prescribed and monitored by a qualified physician;
  • referring infants at high risk, such as those with a family history of deafness or those born with low birth weight, birth asphyxia, jaundice or meningitis, for early assessment of hearing, to ensure prompt diagnosis and appropriate management, as required;
  • reducing exposure (both occupational and recreational) to loud sounds by raising awareness about the risks; developing and enforcing relevant legislation; and encouraging individuals to use personal protective devices such as earplugs and noise-cancelling earphones and headphones.
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