American studies have shown that children with single sided hearing loss have problems with language development and do less well compared to their normal hearing classmates. The studies reveal that as much as one third of all children with single sided hearing loss have to repeat a year of school.
Early treatment is important
Professor Malou Hultcrantz at the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden stresses the importance of rehabilitation of children with one sided hearing loss. She investigates the importance of early treatment of single sided deafness including the condition atresia, where the outer ear canal is underdeveloped or missing.
The research shows that if the auditory nerves are not activated in an early age, children will not develop a good hearing. After the age of 10 the brain “rejects” the auditory nerves if not used. Therefore the auditory nerves need to be activated in order to make them function at their best.
For children with atresia it is possible to construct an ear canal with surgery, but it is a complicated process that requires lifelong care. An alternative solution is to create an outer ear and place a bone embedded hearing aid under the skin.
Language skills do not improve with age
The importance of treating single sided hearing loss from an early age is confirmed by an American study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information, NCBI. The study found that adolescents in the age 12-17 show worse results in language skills than their counterparts with normal hearing.
The adolescents were tested on language skills and IQ. The results of the tests show that children with single sided hearing loss have worse language scores and lower full scale, verbal and performance IQ.
The difference in language skills and IQ for adolescents with and without single sided hearing loss does not seem to be equalizing when they grow older.
Sources: Auris - Tidskrift för hörselskadede, and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov