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Am J Epidemiol. 1996 Sep 1;144(5):442-9.

Prevalence of childhood hearing loss. The Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey II.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami School of Medicine, FL 33101, USA.


Comparative analysis of the epidemiology of childhood hearing loss was undertaken among African-American, Hispanic-American, and non-Hispanic white children. Audiometric data on children aged 6-19 years were obtained from 688 African Americans, 330 Cuban Americans, 2,602 Mexican Americans, 1,025 Puerto Ricans, and 3,243 non-Hispanic whites who participated in either the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey II, 1976-1980, or the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1982-1984. Hearing loss was defined as a pure-tone decibel hearing threshold level (averaged over 500, 1,000, and 2,000 Hz) greater than 15 in the ear with the best response. The prevalence (per 1,000) of bilateral hearing loss was 17.0 for African-American, 68.3 for Cuban-American, 27.6 for Mexican-American, 57.7 for Puerto Rican, and 15.5 for non-Hispanic white children. Differences in prevalence by ethnicity/race diminished when a more stringent definition of hearing loss (i.e., moderate or greater than 30 dB hearing threshold level) was used. There were no adolescent African-American males aged 16-19 years who had a hearing loss. After adjustment for age, the odds of hearing loss was significantly greater in males than in females only in non-Hispanic whites (odds ratio = 2.2; 95% confidence interval 1.6-3.3). On the basis of 1993 census population estimates in the United States, over 819,000 children aged 6-19 years have some degree of hearing impairment, and over 216,000 of these children have moderate or greater hearing impairment.

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