The high incidence of hearing loss, its significant socioeconomic impact, and its preventable nature create a critical need for public health programs to address these issues.
Disabling hearing loss is a common, often over-looked problem in developing countries. Technology has significantly reduced the burden of hearing loss in industrialized nations, but has had little impact in most of the world. When not detected early in life, children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) lag behind their peers in language, social, and cognitive development, fail more frequently in school, and do not acquire the skills to be successfully employed. For 75-80% of children who are DHH, treatments are simple and relatively inexpensive. Even for children needing more expensive treatments, there is clear evidence that the benefits significantly outweigh the expenses. The World Health Organization recommends that universal neonatal screening be adopted in all countries with available rehabilitation services and that the policy be extended to other countries as rehabilitation services are established.
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