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May 10th, 2010
12:05 AM ET

Kids with hearing loss in one ear need more treatment

By Georgiann Caruso
CNN Medical Associate Producer

Young children suffering from hearing loss in one ear should receive the same treatment as children who are impaired in both ears, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday. Researchers looked looked at 74 pairs of siblings age 6-12 and tested their speech-language development. They found that children with permanent hearing loss of any degree in one ear had “substantially worse" speech skills than their brothers and sisters with normal hearing.

The study suggests that even though speech-language test scores do not directly translate into school performance, children who couldn’t hear well in one ear did have significant problems in school.

"I think that we need to reconsider the way that the children have been treated, because in the past, most physicians and certainly educators and school districts have not considered (this) to be a problem," said study author Dr. Judith Lieu of the Washington University School of Medicine.

The study suggests that parents and schools alike be informed about the harmful effects of this type of hearing loss. According to the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association,
approximately 3 percent of school-age children do not have normal hearing in both ears.

“Many kids can get by just fine in school with a mild hearing loss if they’re very attentive and there’s a good acoustic environment,” said Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, professor and chairman of otolaryngology at Long Island College Hospital. But that doesn’t mean not to consider a hearing test by an audiologist.

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Vikka37

    I disagree with this statement: The study suggests that even though speech-language test scores do not directly translate into school performance, children who couldn’t hear well in one ear did have significant problems in school.

    I had 80% hearing loss in one ear and I excelled in school. I did much better than my 3 older siblings who had perfect hearing.

    I had several people, and still do to this day, say they couldn't tell that I had a hearing problem.

    I do have a difficult time hearing anything when there is background noise, but in a classroom when the teacher is talking there shouldn't be any background noise and therefore a child with hearing loss in only one ear should still be able to hear and learn just as well as those who do not have a hearing loss.

    May 10, 2010 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • michael fleischer

      My 8 year old son was just found to have almost total loss of vision in the left with normal in the right.
      I was wondering have you encountered situations in your life in which your in ability to localize sounds posed a threat or danger to you. Im not so worried about school Im much more worried about my boy getting hit by a car or missing some other danger b/c he cant localize

      June 28, 2012 at 00:03 | Report abuse |
  2. hlthmn

    I have been deaf in one ear and some loss in the other all of my life. In school learning was an issue. I just had to be pro-active by sitting up front and try harder not to be distracted by other noises in classroom. A speech therapist also assisted some in the early elementary years. I was a good student that had to put extra effort into my learning.These days, many classrooms have annoying background sound created by the heat and ventilation systems. Ask any teacher. In my school days we had radiators that were silent other than occasional clicking.

    May 10, 2010 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Joesmom

    My ten year old son has a unilateral hearing loss in the right ear (with perfect hearing in the left). The disability in the right ear is a much more serious problem with speech and language due to its link to the left side of the brain that handles speech and language. The good news is that my son is doing well with a hearing aid on the right ear only coupled with an FM system. While this has worked well through elementarty school where he has a single teacher, he will have to advocate for himself next year in middle school, putting the microphone on the teachers' desk as he walks in and taking it when he leaves.

    May 11, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.