Maternal views on infant hearing loss and early intervention in a South African community

DeWet Swanepoel, Nizha Almec
International Journal of Audiology 2008, 47 Suppl 1: S44-8
Parental knowledge and attitudes regarding infant hearing loss are crucial to the successful implementation of EHDI programs, especially in developing countries where concerns have been raised of cultural-based ignorance and resistance towards childhood disabilities. This study investigated maternal knowledge and attitudes amongst 100 South African mothers accessing the public healthcare system using a face-to-face survey. The questionnaire (16 items) probed knowledge of infant hearing loss, superstitious cultural beliefs, and attitude towards early detection and intervention for hearing loss. Results indicate that more than 50% of the sample correctly identified three common etiological factors (ear discharge, medication, congenital) for infant hearing loss. At least one superstitious cultural belief regarding a possible cause of hearing loss was held by 57%. Maternal attitude was overwhelmingly positive with 99% indicating the desire to have their baby's hearing screened after birth and a high acceptance of hearing aids. The study demonstrates a need for increased maternal awareness regarding infant hearing loss but also a readiness for implementation of EHDI programs.

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