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March 3, 2010

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Early ear screening key: doctors

VIRAL infection, injury and bad habits like the continuous use of earphones are major causes of children's non-congenital deafness, medical experts said yesterday.

But with early detection, diagnosis, treatment and training, deaf children can rebuild their hearing and grow up healthily.

"Since promoting hearing screening for newborn children in 2007, most cases with congenital hearing disorder can be found in time and passed to the proper medical facilities for treatment and rehabilitation," said Dr Tao Zheng, director of Shanghai Children's Medical Center's hearing disorder diagnosis and treatment center, speaking in connection with Ear Care Day, which falls today.

"The major problem now is children suffering hearing injury through non-congenital causes. In clinical practice, inner-ear inflammation due to viral infection is responsible for 60 percent of children's non-congenital deafness and 30 percent is because of injury."

There are 20 million deaf people in the nation, including some 800,000 children younger than 7. In Shanghai, 300 to 400 children are born with deafness annually.


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