Hearing management

23 March 2018

SA's hungry children could have this problem later on

A new study suggests that improved nutrition could help prevent hearing loss in children.

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More than 20 years into democracy, child malnutrition is still a problem in South Africa.

As much as this has huge implications for the country, a new study has added bad news to the pile: Poor nutrition in early childhood may make hearing loss more likely in adulthood.

Fourth-leading cause of disability

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health tested the hearing of more than 2 200 young adults in Nepal who had taken part in a nutrition study when they were children.

Those who were undernourished in their preschool years were about twice as likely to have hearing loss 16 years later than those who were better nourished as young children, the study found.

The results were published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The findings suggest that improved nutrition among children in South Asia could help prevent hearing loss, which affects about 116 million young people in that region, according to the researchers.

The study doesn't mention South Africa, but it is likely that results would be similar.

Still-neglected public health burden

Hearing loss is the fourth-leading cause of disability worldwide. About 80% of people with hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries.

"Our findings should help elevate hearing loss as a still-neglected public health burden, and one that nutrition interventions in early childhood might help prevent," lead investigator Keith West Jr. said in a Hopkins news release. He's a professor of international health at the university.

The "findings are not only important for low-resource areas of Nepal, but also for much of South Asia," he said.

Image credit: iStock

 

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Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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