Background: Hearing loss is a prevalent sensorineural disorder and a major public health issue in China. It is suggested that half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures. However, national strategies for hearing healthcare are not implemented well in Guangdong and some other regions in China.
Methods: To develop a community-based service model for the prevention and control of hearing loss in Guangdong, we integrated the model with multiple maternal and child healthcare models, and set up a series of clinical programs along with an optimum timeline for the preventive measures and intervention treatments to take place. A total of 36,090 families were enrolled in the study, including 358 high-risk families and 35,732 general-risk families.
Results: The study lasted for 6.5 years, and 30,769 children were born during that period. A total of 42 children were born with congenital deafness; 17 of them were born into families with advanced genetic risks for hearing loss, 9 were born with specific medical conditions, and 16 were born into general-risk families. About one third of them were diagnosed prenatally, others were diagnosed within 3 months of age, and 72% of them received interventions initiated before 6 months of age. 13 children presented with delayed hearing loss; 9 of them were diagnosed with delayed hereditary sensorineural deafness in neonatal period, and 4 were diagnosed within 3 months after onset. Timely interventions were provided to them, with appropriate referrals and follow-ups. Beside these, 80 families were identified with genetic susceptibility to aminoglycoside ototoxicity. Detailed medication guides were provided to prevent aminoglycoside-induced hearing loss. Moreover, through health education and risk reduction strategies, the prevalence of TORCH syndrome decreased from 10.7 to 5.2 per 10,000. Additionaly, the awareness rates of health knowledge about hearing healthcare significantly increased in the cohort.
Conclusions: Adapting national strategies for local or district projects could be an important step in implementing hearing loss prevention measures, and developing community-based service models could be of importance in carrying them out.
Keywords: Clinical program; Hearing loss; Prevention and control; Service model.