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doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000399908.77518.70
Departments: Hj Report
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The Hearing Industries Association (HIA) united supporters for the Seventh Annual Hearing on the Hill in Washington, DC May 11, highlighting hearing health issues for US legislators.

Manufacturers and congressional staff representing New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Minnesota, and other states where HIA members have a large presence held 65 meetings to rally support for the hearing aid tax credit.

Andy Bopp, HIA's Director of Government Relations, said congressional staffers have always been eager to speak with HIA members about the tax credit. “This has always been a bipartisan bill with no objection. There is no group opposing us,” he said. “The biggest obstacle for this bill has always been cost, which is especially true now given the deficit and national debt.”

Members of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, the International Hearing Society (IHS), and the Hearing Loss Association of America also held combined meetings with legislators. In an evening reception, more than 30 individuals had their hearing screened by Therese C. Walden, AuD, President of the American Academy of Audiology, and Patrick Kochanowski, BC-HIS, IHS Governor and President of the IHS Pennsylvania Chapter.

Kathleen Mennillo, Executive Director of HIS, said she was proud of the collaboration between the organizations. “It was so exciting to see everyone sit on the same side of the table for this cause. IHS is the smallest membership group, yet we had a strong presence at the event,” she said. “We are dedicated to making a difference for the hearing impaired.”

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William F. House, MD, often called the “Father of Neurotology” for his innovative work in treating inner ear disorders, has published a memoir detailing his fight as an early researcher to gain the support of the medical community.

The Struggles of a Medical Innovator: Cochlear Implants and Other Ear Surgeries, begins with House's entry into the healthcare field as a dental student. Eventually, he left his post as a dental officer in the US Navy to enroll in medical school at the University of Southern California's School of Medicine. Following a residency in otolaryngology at Los Angeles County Hospital, he joined his brother's otology practice, marking the tipping point in his development of treatments for numerous disorders of the inner ear and involvement with cochlear implants.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology recognizes House as having developed more new concepts in otology than almost any other single person in history. He has also received many awards in his lifetime, including the Physician of the Year in 1985 by the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.

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The UN World Health Organization (WHO) recently estimated that 70% of individuals with hearing loss live in developing countries, and only one of 40 hard-of-hearing people will ever have the opportunity to wear a hearing aid.

Of the 642 million people estimated to suffer from hearing loss, 208 million have moderate-to-severe loss.

World Wide Hearing, an international nonprofit organization founded to provide affordable hearing aids to underserved communities around the world has a collaboration agreement with WHO. Claudio Bussandri, Chairman of World Wide Hearing's international foundation, said the nonprofit is working on transforming the way that hearing aids are fitted and delivered to the world's poor and underserved communities. “We are on the right track to change the world of hearing,” he said.

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A new test for cytomegalovirus (CMV)—a common cause of hearing loss in babies—is as effective as traditional screening, but is faster, easier, and cheaper, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine (2011;364:2111).

Authors Suresh Boppana, MD, and Karen Fowler, DrPH, of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues studied three ways to test for CMV, which babies contract from their mothers in the uterus. CMV testing is usually done with saliva taken from babies at birth, but it's not standard for healthy infants. The virus can't be detected if the test is not done in the first two to three weeks of life.

“Our objective was to find what method could test for CMV in a larger sample, rapidly, reliably, and relatively inexpensively,” said Boppana. “We found that testing saliva works well.”

The researchers found that a polymerase chain-reaction-based saliva test was more than 97% accurate in finding CMV in newborns. That matched the accuracy of the traditional rapid culture saliva test, but is simpler to obtain. Nearly 35,000 babies were tested, about 177 of whom were positive for CMV. Infants who tested positive will be enrolled in a follow-up program to monitor their hearing every six months until they are 4-years-old.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.