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Study: 1 in 4 children with common hearing condition receives treatment

One in four children with a common form of hearing loss undergo a full diagnostic exam and receive treatment, a new study has found. File Photo by Mila May/Shutterstock
One in four children with a common form of hearing loss undergo a full diagnostic exam and receive treatment, a new study has found. File Photo by Mila May/Shutterstock

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Just 60% of children with a common form of hearing loss see a specialist, and roughly one in four of them undergoes a full diagnostic work-up and receives treatment for the condition, a study published Wednesday by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery found.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs as a result of inner-ear damage, and people with the condition may have difficulty hearing soft sounds, while louder noises may be unclear or muffled, according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

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It is the most common type of permanent hearing loss, and it affects up to 15% of children nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

"Hearing loss is a dynamic, chronic and common sensory disorder," study co-author Dr. Alan G. Cheng told UPI.

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"Since hearing loss has profound effects on children's language development and learning, making sure that your children get the appropriate workup and treatment is critical," said Cheng, chief of pediatric otolaryngology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

For this study, Cheng and his colleagues analyzed data on 53,711 children diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss in the United States between 2008 and 2018.

Of all patients, 32,200, or 60% were seen by general otolaryngologists, or ear specialists, while 7,573, or 14%, were evaluated by pediatric otolaryngologists, according to the researchers.

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Just over 27% of the study patients underwent a full diagnostic work-up for sensorineural hearing loss, including magnetic resonance imaging, CT scans and genetic testing, the data showed.

In addition, just over 25% of the study patients received one of the recommended treatments for the condition such as cochlear implant surgery, hearing aids and speech therapy, the researchers said.

"Both the diagnostic workup and treatment of children with hearing loss can vary, which can lead to different patient outcomes," Cheng said.

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"Talking to your treating physician and understanding the significance of hearing loss are both good starts," he said.

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