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Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
Date:4/3/2009

Keamy and his colleagues point out that hearing loss is one of the most common birth disorders in the United States, noting that two to four of every 1,000 children are born either deaf or hard-of-hearing.

The current review examined prior research gleaned from medical databases and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

The hearing study authors found that the average rate of hearing impairment from birth to adolescence was "significantly higher" among all subgroups of Hispanic-Americans (Mexican-American, Cuban-American, and Puerto Rican) and to a similar degree among low-income households.

"The bottom line is that pediatric hearing loss is a largely under-recognized problem that has a great impact on a number of issues, with regard to learning and language development," noted Keamy. "And until we really completely understand the scope of the problem, we can't fix it and make things better."

"So the point here," he stressed, "is that despite the fact that most states now screen newborns for hearing loss before hospital discharge, the process is not entirely standardized, and different techniques are used which have different sensitivities for detecting hearing loss. So the indication about the higher risk among Hispanics is, of course, important. But what we truly hope to accomplish with this work is to encourage the adoption of a more systematic approach to the overall problem."

"This study really shows the need for an apples-to-apples approach to pediatric hearing loss," agreed Robert D. Frisina, an associate chair of otolaryngology at the University of Rochester Medical School in New York.

"This is a relatively novel and interesting analysis," said Frisina. "And I haven't heard of a higher risk among Hispanic households before, which makes it a little bit surprising and provocative. But before any health recommendations could be made, it does need to be followed up to find out with ce
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