Infant hearing loss in South Africa: age of intervention and parental needs for support

Talita van der Spuy, Lidia Pottas
International Journal of Audiology 2008, 47 Suppl 1: S30-5
Hearing loss is referred to as the silent, overlooked epidemic in developing countries, and data reporting the mean age of diagnosis and intervention is virtually non-existent due to limited systematic or routine screening programs. The objective of this paper is to present findings of recent practice in early diagnosis and intervention services in an urban South African context, with specific reference to parental needs for support. Data was collected by means of questionnaire surveys for 54 parents of children with congenital or early-onset hearing loss, followed by focus group discussions conducted with 10 parents. The results of this study indicate the mean age of diagnosis to be 23 months (+/-18 SD), the mean age of initial hearing-aid fitting to be 28 months (+/-19 SD), and the mean age of enrollment into an early intervention program to be 31 months (+/-19 SD). In addition, results signify that this diverse and challenging population of parents of young hearing-impaired children largely depends on the ongoing support, guidance, and commitment of the pediatric audiologist.

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