Epidemiology of congenital hearing loss in Victoria, Australia

Int J Audiol. 2003 Oct;42(7):385-90. doi: 10.3109/14992020309080047.


The aim of this study was to report the incidence, prevalence and clinical characteristics of congenital hearing loss sufficient to require hearing aid fitting in the first 6 years of life for the 1993 birth cohort of the state of Victoria (population 4.4 million), Australia. In 1993, 64,116 infants born in the state of Victoria survived the neonatal period. Subjects included all children with congenital hearing loss for which hearing aids were fitted, at any time up to and including 31 December 1999, when the youngest member of the cohort reached 6 years of age. Data on the degree, type and etiology of hearing loss were available from the Australian Hearing database for all subjects. Sociodemographic and health data were available from the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP) and parent questionnaires. The known prevalence of identified congenital hearing loss increased as the cohort aged. By the time the youngest member had reached the age of 6 years, 134 children (78 boys, 56 girls) had been fitted with hearing aids for permanent congenital hearing loss of any degree (2.09/1000). Fifty-four (40%) of these had known mild losses (20-40 dB HL). The prevalence of known moderate or greater loss (> 40 dB HL) was 1.12/1000; the data suggest that over 90% could have been detectable by neonatal hearing screening. A further seven children from the birth cohort were fitted with hearing aids due to acquired forms of hearing loss (0.11/1000). The etiology was known in only 57 (43%) congenital cases, with known non-syndromal genetic causes accounting for 21 (37%) of these. This study reports on the prevalence of congenital hearing loss requiring hearing aid fitting for an entire birth cohort. These data indicate the possible yield from neonatal screening, and hence the likely benefit of such screening. For a large proportion of cases, the etiology remains unknown. These data have implications for health service delivery and illustrate the usefulness of a population database in monitoring the prevalence of congenital hearing loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Hearing Aids
  • Hearing Loss / congenital*
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology*
  • Hearing Loss / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Victoria / epidemiology