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Kids with hearing loss in 1 ear fall behind in language skills
Date:5/4/2010

By the time they reach school age, one in 20 children have hearing loss in one ear. That can raise significant hurdles for these children, say the results of a new study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, 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, MD, 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.

Hearing loss in one ear can stem from congenital abnormalities in the ear, head trauma or infections such as meningitis. Children with hearing loss in one ear may go undetected because they can appear to have normal hearing. Their difficulty hearing may be mistaken simply for lack of attention or selective hearing, says Lieu, assistant professor of otolaryngology.

Even children with recognized one-side hearing loss often aren't fitted with hearing aids and often don't receive accommodations for disability.

The study will be published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.

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
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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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