Overview of newborn hearing screening activities in Latin America

Barbara Gerner de Garcia, Claudia Gaffney, Susan Chacon, Marcus Gaffney
Pan American Journal of Public Health 2011, 29 (3): 145-52

OBJECTIVE: Ascertain the status of early hearing detection and intervention services in Latin America.

METHODS: Between June and November 2007, Gallaudet University, in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Diversity Committee, disseminated a survey to 11 Latin American countries. It included questions about newborn hearing screening (NHS) procedures, the availability of intervention services for infants with hearing loss, and challenges in identifying infants with hearing loss. In addition, a literature review was conducted to help identify the status of NHS efforts in Latin America.

RESULTS: Six countries (Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay) and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) responded to the survey. Responses indicated that efforts to identify infants with hearing loss vary within and across countries in Latin America. In some countries, activities have been implemented at a national level; in others, activities have been implemented at a single hospital or region within a country. Common barriers to implementation of NHS programs include a lack of funding, screening and diagnostic equipment, public awareness, and personnel qualified to work with infants and young children.

CONCLUSIONS: In spite of several barriers, NHS programs have been implemented in at least some facilities and regions in Latin America. Additional efforts are needed to expand NHS activities in Latin America.


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