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NCHAM: National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, Utah State University

Last Updated: 1/15/10


  • Population (mid-2008)(1): 16.8 million
  • Annual # of births (2007)(2): 250,000
  • Institutional births (2000/7)(2): 100%
  • GNI PPP per Capita (US$) 2007(1): 12,590
  • Infant Mortality rate(1): 8.8
  • Newborn Hearing Screening Program: One Program
    • Screened (2005): 6,222
    • Not Passed: 446
    • Audiological Evaluation: 386
    • Hearing Loss ID: 17
    • Average Age of Identification: 4 to 8 months
a map of Latin America

Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Contact:

Enrica Pittaluga
Hospital Sotero del Rio
P.O. 7083113
Telephone number: 09-8250594 (562) 5421793
Email Enrica Pittaluga

NHS Legislation:

Since July 2005, Chilean law has required targeted hearing screening using OAE and ABR technology for all premature newborns born prior to 32 weeks and weighing less than 1,500 grams that are discharged from the 28 facilities in the country with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Although 8% to 10% of all births are at risk for hearing loss, this requirement results in approximately 1.0–1.3% of annual births being screened for hearing loss. The law also requires diagnostic and intervention services, the provision of bilateral hearing aids, and the reporting of results to a national database maintained by the Ministry of Health (Pittaluga, 2005).

UNHS Program Information:

UNHS pilot programs have been initiated in a few public and private birthing hospitals, such as hospital Sótero del Río and Clínica les Condes in Santiago de Chile (Godoy, 2003). If the baby does not pass the hearing screening, the birthing hospital refers the baby for a diagnostic evaluation with a fonoaudiólogo (i.e., a professional with knowledge of both Speech Language Pathology and Audiology). If the baby is diagnosed with hearing loss, the national social security system will pay for the hearing aids. The national social security system covers 70% to 75% of the total population. Speech and language therapy, and cochlear implants are also available to children with hearing loss. A public campaign was conducted in 2005 to promote the program among the general population. Although the program has existed for a few years, there are still several barriers that need to be overcome such as lack of financial support, equipment and qualified staff. The country plans to expand the program in the future to include all premature babies and eventually all babies born each year. To reach this final goal, fonoaudiólogos and special educators are being trained to provide the services needed by the target population. Also, several graduate schools are planning to start master programs in Audiology.

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  1. World Bank, Population Reference Bureau (2008). 2008 World Population data sheet. (PDF)