Objectives Childhood hearing impairment (CHI) is a major developmental disability, but data at the national level are limited, especially those on the trends over time. We conducted a study to assess the time trend of CHI prevalence in Taiwan and explore its associated factors.
Method The Taiwan government certifies disabled residents for providing various services and maintains a registry of certified cases. We analysed the registry data on cases under 17 years old from 2000 to 2011 to estimate the prevalence of CHI and assess the time trend.
Results Each year, registered cases ranged from 3427 to 4075. The prevalence increased from 2000 to 2006, and then decreased till 2011. In general, the prevalence increased over the years in the age groups < 3 years, 3–5 years, and 6–11 years (p < 0·05), but decreased in the age group 12–14 years (p < 0·05). The largest increase was observed in the age group <3 years, particularly after the promotion of screening by the government in 2003. The decrease after 2006 was mainly attributable to decreases in the age groups 12–14 and 15–17 years, and similar decreases had been observed in countries with rubella vaccination programs.
Conclusions In Taiwan, the prevalence and proportion of CHI in the age group < 3 years had increased from 2000 to 2006 after the implementation of hearing screening programs. The overall prevalence decreased from 2006 to 2011, which might be attributable to the improvements in medical care and the nationwide rubella vaccination program.