OBJECTIVE: To describe the nature of hearing loss and associated risk profile in a representative South African population of infants and children diagnosed at a pediatric referral clinic.
METHODS: A retrospective review of patient files for a pediatric auditory evoked potential clinic in Pretoria was conducted (January 2007 to December 2011). Collected data included demographical information, risk factors from case history questionnaire, diagnosis (type and degree of hearing loss), documented age of
caregiver suspicion and age of first diagnosis.
RESULTS: Hearing loss was present in 73% (73/100) of cases evaluated. Permanent hearing losses (SNHL, ANSD & Mixed) constituted 76% of losses. Unilateral hearing losses constituted 8% of SNHL and 20% of conductive hearing loss. ANSD was diagnosed in 21.4% and SNHL in 78.6% of permanent non-conductive hearing loss cases. The most prevalent SNHL risk was family history of hearing loss and for ANSD it was admittance to the NICU for more than 5 days. The majority of the sample was diagnosed with a permanent bilateral SNHL and ANSD after 36 months of age (47%) despite 40% already suspected of having a hearing loss before 12
months of age. CONCLUSIONS: A high prevalence of ANSD was found with preventable risk factors often indicated. Age of diagnosis was significantly delayed, evidencing the lack of early hearing detection services in South Africa. The majority of children were
diagnosed at ages precluding optimal benefits from early detection and subsequent