Data and Statistics About Hearing Loss in Children

EHDI Annual Data

In the United States

  • Studies have shown a range of estimates for the number of children with hearing loss, some of which are summarized in the following table.
Studies have shown a range of estimates for the number of children with hearing loss, some of which are summarized in the following table.
Prevalence Rate Source and Year Age Range Type/Degree of Hearing Loss Notes
14.9% of children CDC’s Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), 1988 – 1994 [Read article] 6-19 years of age Low- or high-frequency hearing loss of at least 16-decibel hearing level in one or both ears. National population-based, cross-sectional survey with an in-person interview and audiometric testing at 0.5 to 8 kilohertz.
5 per 1,000 children CDC’s National Health Interview Survey, 1997-2005 [Read article] 3-17 years of age N/A Parent-reported hearing loss based on the question, “Which statement best describes the child’s hearing without a hearing aid: good, a little trouble, a lot of trouble, or deaf?”
1.7 per 1,000 babies screened CDC’s Hearing Screening and Follow-up Survey, 2019 (Data table) Babies N/A Includes only babies documented as being screened for hearing loss. Does not reflect cases of hearing loss that were identified but never reported to the state or territorial Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program.
1.4 per 1,000 children CDC’s Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP), 1991-2010 [Read article] 8 years of age Bilateral hearing loss of 40 decibels or more MADDSP identifies children with moderate to profound hearing loss by reviewing existing records at multiple health and education sources.


  • Population-based studies in Europe and North America have identified a consistent prevalence of approximately 0.1% of children having a hearing loss of more than 40 decibels (dB) through review of health or education records, or both. Other international studies using different methods or criteria (such as screenings, questionnaires, and less severe decibel thresholds) have reported higher estimates. (Data table [PDF – 75 KB])

Newborn Hearing Screening, Diagnosis, and Intervention

Based on data collected by CDC from states and territories for year 2019:

  • Over 98% of U.S. newborns were screened for hearing loss
  • Almost 6,000 U.S. infants born in 2019 were identified early with a permanent hearing loss
  • The prevalence of hearing loss in 2019 was 1.7 per 1,000 babies screened for hearing loss
  • Some infants needing additional testing or early intervention did not receive these important follow-up services

Source: 2019 CDC EHDI Hearing Screening and Follow-up Survey

Causes, Risk Factors, and Characteristics

  • Genes are responsible for hearing loss among 50% to 60% of children with hearing loss. [Read article]
    • About 20% of babies with genetic hearing loss have a “syndrome” (for example, Down syndrome or Usher syndrome).
  • Infections during pregnancy in the mother, other environmental causes, and complications after birth are responsible for hearing loss among almost 30% of babies with hearing loss. [Read article]
  • Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection during pregnancy is a preventable risk factor for hearing loss among children. [Read summary]
    • 14% of those exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) of some type.
    • About 3% to 5% of those exposed to CMV during pregnancy develop bilateral moderate-to-profound SNHL.
    • A 2005 HealthStyles survey by CDC found that only 14% of female respondents had heard of CMV. [Read summary]
  • About one in every four children with hearing loss also is born weighing less than 2,500 grams (about 5 1/2 pounds). [Read summary]
  • According to ongoing tracking in metro Atlanta, the most common developmental disability to co-occur with hearing loss is intellectual disability (23%), followed by cerebral palsy (10%), autism spectrum disorder (7%), and/or vision impairment (5%). [Read article]

Transition Into Adulthood

A CDC study that followed school-aged children identified with hearing loss into young adulthood (21 through 25 years of age) found that:

  • About 40% of young adults with hearing loss identified during childhood reported experiencing at least one limitation in daily functioning. [Read summary]
  • About 71% of young adults with hearing loss without other related conditions (such as intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or vision loss) were employed. [Read summary]

Economic Cost

  • During the 1999 – 2000 school year, the total cost in the United States for special education programs for children who were deaf or hard of hearing was $652 million, or $11,006 per child. [Read report]
  • The lifetime educational cost (year 2007 value) of hearing loss (more than 40 dB permanent loss without other disabilities) has been estimated at $115,600 per child.1
  • It is expected that the lifetime costs for all people with hearing loss who were born in 2000 will total $2.1 billion (in 2003 dollars). [Read article]
    • Direct medical costs, such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, and inpatient hospital stays, will make up 6% of these costs.
    • Direct nonmedical expenses, such as home modifications and special education, will make up 30% of these costs.
    • Indirect costs, which include the value of lost wages when a person cannot work or is limited in the amount or type of work he or she can do, will make up 63% of the costs.Note: These estimates do not include other expenses, such as hospital outpatient visits, sign language interpreters, and family out-of-pocket expenses. The actual economic costs of hearing loss, therefore, will be even higher than what is reported here.
Featured Articles

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1. Grosse SD. Education cost savings from early detection of hearing loss: New findings. Volta Voices 2007;14(6):38-40.