Prevalence Statistics for Hearing Loss and Deafness

General Statistics on Deaf and HL Community

  • On average, 3-5 newborns in 1000 are born deaf or with severe HL.
  • Over 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.
  • About 0.23% of all people are deaf: can’t hear or understand any speech.
  • Up to 30% of kids between birth and age 3 have occasional ear infections.
  • About 8% of kids aged 3 to pre-teen have occasional ear infections.
  • Ear infections usually stop once the child has grown enough that their eustachian tubes are more downward sloped, around age 7 and up.
  • Some people have chronic ear infections into adulthood.
  • Yearly incidence of sudden deafness is 5 to 20 cases per 100,000 people.
  • 15% of children between ages 6 to 19 have hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • In people with sensorineural hearing loss, 5.4% develop the loss before age 3.
  • In people with sensorineural hearing loss, 14.2% develop the loss between ages 3 to 19.
  • About 14% of adults aged 45-64 have some type of hearing loss.
  • About 33% of adults aged 65 and older have some type of hearing loss.

World Health Organization Data on Prevalence of Hearing Loss Globally

WHO definition of disabling hearing loss:
Children Age 0 to 14 years old = hearing thresholds >30 dB in one or both ears.
Adults Age 15 years or older = hearing thresholds >40 dB in one or both ears.

In 2012, WHO released new disabling hearing loss estimates based on 42 population-based studies:

  • 360 million people or 5.3% of the world’s population have disabling hearing loss.
  • 91% of these are adults aged 15 and older with disabling hearing loss.
  • 9% of these are children aged 14 and younger with disabling hearing loss.
  • 15% of people aged 15 to 64 have disabling hearing loss.
  • 33% of people age 65 and older have disabling hearing loss.
  • Males 56% have worse hearing than females 44%.

WHO compared disabling hearing loss by global regions and found:

3%  = Middle East And North Africa
9%  = Sub-Saharan Africa
9%  = Central/East Europe and Central Asia
9%  = Latin America and Caribbean
10% = Asia Pacific
11% = High Income (e.g. Canada, USA, UK)
22% = East Asia
27% = South Asia

Higher hearing loss prevalence in East and South Asia is likely related to poverty and poor healthcare, especially for children, and from noise damage in adults.

Center for Hearing and Communication. Statistics and facts about hearing loss. Retrieved from

WHO Global estimates on prevalence of hearing loss (2012), Mortality and Burden of Diseases and Prevention of Blindness and Deafness. World Health Organization.

Photo Credit at Unsplash

Jan L. Mayes MSc Aud(C) RAud is an international Eric Hoffer Award winning author, audiologist, and hearing healthcare educator. She specializes in tinnitus, hyperacusis, noise-induced hearing system damage, and darkly disturbing, macabre horror fiction.