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Kids with One Ear Hearing Loss Fall Behind in Language Skills

Kids with One Ear Hearing Loss Fall Behind in Language Skills

Photo: Young girl writing 

By the time they reach school age, one in 20 children has hearing loss in one ear. That can raise significant hurdles for these children, say the results of a new study, because loss of hearing in one ear hurts their ability to comprehend and use language.

"For many years, pediatricians and educators thought that as long as children have one normal hearing ear, their speech and language would develop normally," says lead author Judith E. C. Lieu, a Washington University ear, nose and throat specialist at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

"But then a few studies began suggesting these children might have problems in school. Now our study has shown that on average, children with hearing loss in one ear have poorer oral language scores than children with hearing in both ears," Lieu says.
Even children with recognized one-side hearing loss often aren't fitted with hearing aids and often don't receive accommodations for disability.

The researchers studied 74 six- to 12-year-old children with hearing loss in one ear. Each was matched with a sibling with normal hearing so that the researchers could minimize the possible effects of environmental and genetic factors on the children's language skills. The children were tested with the Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS), a widely used tool to assess language comprehension and expression.

An average OWLS score is 100, and hearing loss in one ear caused about a 10-point drop in scores. The oral composite score – which reflects both children's ability to understand what is said to them and their ability to respond or express themselves – averaged 90 in children with hearing loss in one ear.

Lieu says that the study demonstrated the strongest effect from hearing loss in one ear in children who are living below the poverty level or with mothers who have little education. Poverty levels and maternal education levels are well-established influences on language skills, and hearing loss in one ear may increase that effect.

"This study should raise awareness that if children with hearing loss in one ear are having difficulties in speech or reading in school, their hearing may be part of the problem," Lieu says. "Parents, educators and pediatricians shouldn't assume that having hearing in one ear means children won't need additional assistance."

REHACARE.de; Source: Washington University School of Medicine

- More about the Washington University School of Medicine at www.medicine.wustl.edu

 
 

( Source: REHACARE.de )

 
 

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