More Danish children with hearing problems

A Danish survey shows that it is much more common for Danish children to be suffering from hearing problems than earlier.

The Danish newspaper, Aarhus Stiftstidende, comments on the survey which was carried out by a research unit at the University of Aarhus in cooperation with four Danish municipalities. Over the course of 23 years, children in these four municipalities have had their hearing tested. The survey shows that in 1977, 7 per cent of the children in first grade were suffering from hearing loss. They had problems hearing sounds below 30 dB. Since then, the number has risen to 30 per cent.

"The survey seems to show that hearing loss in children is caused by exposure to excessive noise. We are not absolutely sure of this, but that is the most likely explanation. It is based upon the fact that most of the children show difficulty in hearing high frequency sounds", say the doctors behind the survey, Søren Gissel, Jens Tølbøll Mortensen and Svend Juul.

They are unable to identify the source of the noise, but mention the use of walkmans (since the survey has been conducted, MP3 players have replaced the use of walkman but are considered to be an even greater threat to the hearing) and the fact that many children spend much of their time in day-care centres or kindergartens. Kindergartens can be very noisy. A study examining the noise levels in 187 kindergartens found noise levels above 80 dB in half of them necessitating the use of ear protection by the adults as well as the children.

The president of the Danish organisation for the hard of hearing said to Aarhus Stiftstidende that he is pleased with the survey being carried out. The general public knows far too little about children and hearing problems. He says that he would like Danish children to be taught more about noise and sound pressure at school to reduce hearing problems. He fears that the number of hard of hearing and deaf people will rise dramatically in the coming 10 to 20 years if nothing is done.

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