In the United States, 5 out of every 1,000 children experience hearing loss. After accounting for immigrant children from Mexico and China, that figure increases by at least 7.5 percent. Hearing loss affects a child's quality of life and can delay their ability to learn a language, perform well in school, and socialize with peers. According to researchers, mild hearing loss can cause a child to miss as much as 50 percent of content covered in a classroom setting. Access to screening for hearing loss and timely referrals for treatment can reduce hearing loss and lead to improved quality of life.
To meet this important need, NYU Langone Health, in a collaboration between its Institute for Excellence in Health Equity and Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, has launched the Hearing Loss Awareness and Screening Program for Low-Income Immigrant Families. The program, supported by a generous multiyear gift from the Silverstein family, will bring screenings to community-based settings, such as community centers and faith-based organizations, so residents can access care.
The program will serve families in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; Mineola, Long Island; and other immigrant neighborhoods in the greater New York City area. For the program's first year, the Institute for Excellence in Health Equity will leverage the infrastructure of one of its core pillars—community engagement—by partnering with two community-based organizations and four faith-based organizations in Brooklyn.
"We are eager to partner with our colleagues in otolaryngology at NYU Langone along with invested community leaders to bring awareness to this critical topic, as it is essential to get all children screened for hearing loss and connected to timely treatment when necessary," says Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, Institute for Excellence in Health Equity pillar lead, the Barbara Wilson Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and associate professor of population health.
Community volunteers are trained by NYU Langone physicians on hearing loss screening techniques and ways to refer children for follow-up care when necessary.
"The goal is to understand the incidence of unrecognized hearing loss and the causes in this age group, and to establish ongoing best-in-class programs and care to treat the hearing loss. Every child should be able to maximize their potential," says J. Thomas Roland Jr., MD, the Mendik Foundation Professor of Otolaryngology and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, who led a recent training for the program's volunteers.
This program will address community-level barriers that most immigrant and low-income families face in accessing healthcare by leveraging the influence of trusted community partners to spread awareness of screening their children for unrecognized hearing loss."
Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD, MPH, director of the Institute for Excellence in Health Equity and the Dr. Adolph and Margaret Berger Professor of Medicine and Population Health