As many as 4,742 of every 100,000 children under the age of five suffer from hearing problem or loss, the highest among 195 countries, according to a study conducted by Global Research on Developmental Disability Collaboration funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The study was published in the online edition of UK based medical and research journal The Lancet on 29 August.
The researchers published six different lists of the top 10 countries based on six development disabilities in children -- hearing loss, vision loss, autism, intellectual disability, epilepsy and lack of attentiveness (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-ADHD).
Bangladesh was listed among the top 10 countries with hearing loss, epilepsy, intellectual disability and autism in children.
Confirming the report as credible, the director of National Institute of Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), Mahmudul Hassan, told Prothom Alo that nearly 15 million people in Bangladesh, including children, are suffering from hearing problem of different levels.
Around 40 per cent of the children suffering from hearing loss had inborn defects while the remaining suffer for various reasons, such as infections, side effects of medicines and many others, he added.
The researchers analysed data from 195 countries between 1990 and 2016. The report said it is difficult to find information about children’s disability.
This Prothom Alo correspondent found that there was no national survey on such disabilities in Bangladesh.
However, the study says several survey on various diseases and health problems of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Peru, Tanzania and the United States had been carried out between October 2009 and June 2010.
The data of those surveys were used in the current study.
There are 679,629 less than five years' old children with hearing disability while at least 4,742 out of every 100,000 children are suffering from hearing problem, globally the highest.
However, the ratio of children with hearing disability as per the size of total population is highest in India. Bangladesh ranked fifth on this list that also include are China, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Children can be born with such disabilities if the mother suffers from malnutrition or this may happen due to the side effects of medicines taken during pregnancy, said Pran Gopal Datta, a former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu sheikh Mujib Medical University.
Measles is another reason for ear problems after birth. Also, damage in eardrums can cause hearing disability, he added.
Researchers say, the first five years are important for the growth and development of the brain that builds the foundation for life and learning skills. Disabled children have a higher health risk and likely to lag behind from all aspects.
Tahmina Banu, director of the Chittagong Research Institute for Children Surgery, is conducting a research for more than 15 years on child’s birth defects and health problems.
“There is a recognised method known as ‘birth screening’ on the seventh day and six months after birth.The condition of each child could be known and effective measures could be taken if the method was introduced in Bangladesh,” Tahmina Banu added.