31 March 2020

One in six Polish school-age children has a hearing loss

More than 16% of Polish school-age children have a hearing loss of 20 dB or higher. Hearing loss is more common among younger Polish children than in older children, a study finds.

16.4% of Polish school-age children have a hearing loss, a study finds. In the Polish study, the prevalence of hearing loss was significantly higher in younger children than in older children. Mild hearing loss was more frequent than moderate or worse hearing loss. The children more often also experienced unilateral hearing loss than bilateral hearing loss.

Hearing loss at different frequencies

In the study, 6.2% of tested children were diagnosed with a low-frequency hearing loss. A high-frequency hearing loss was found in 7.4% of the participants. Finally, the prevalence of hearing loss in the frequencies between 500 Hz and 4000 Hz (four frequency pure-tone average hearing loss) was 5.6%, with most cases among the younger children.

In some cases, a low-frequency hearing loss may be temporary. One of the most common reasons for temporary low-frequency hearing loss is inflammations of the middle ear.

Facts about the study

The study was conducted in the general, pediatric, nonclinical population of school-age children from rural areas in Poland. The participants were 67,416 children aged from 6 to 13 years old. The participants were recruited from all 16 regions of Poland. The study took place between September 2016 and June 2017. The aim of the study was to estimate the national prevalence of hearing loss in school-age children from rural areas in Poland.

In the study, pure-tone air-conduction hearing threshold was obtained at 0.5–8 kHz. Hearing loss was defined as a pure-tone average higher than 20 dB in one or both ears for different types of hearing loss.

Why more young children?

The authors of the study state that the higher prevalence of hearing disorders in younger children might be due to a couple of factors. Firstly, younger children are more likely than older children to get ear infections. Secondly, a child's immune system is not completely effective because it is still developing, and otitis media is often co-morbid with other infections.

The study “Prevalence of hearing loss among polish school-age children from rural areas – Results of hearing screening program in the sample of 67,416 children” was published in International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.

Source: International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology

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