Many parents that have a child with partial deafness do not get the condition treated according to new research.
“Traditionally, asymmetric deafness in childhood, particularly when only one ear is affected, has been overlooked or dismissed as a concern because the children have had some access to sound,” said lead author Karen Gordon of Archie’s Cochlear Implant Laboratory at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.
“The problem is that children with asymmetric hearing still have a hearing loss,” Gordon said in an email to Rueters Health. “Without normal hearing from both ears, they experience deficits locating sounds around them.”
While a child with partial hearing can hear sounds, the task is more difficult when there are other noises in the room or other people speaking at the same time, Gordon said.
One of the main issues is lack of information,” said Dayse Tavora-Vieira of the University of Western Australia n West Perth, who was not part of the new review. “The implications of unilateral hearing loss/deafness have been historically underestimated by professionals and this has reflected on how they counsel parents.”
Also, the children may not show a handicap until educational, social and emotional concerns become clear later in life, she told Reuters Health in an email.
The researchers noted that newborns and young children with deafness in one ear should be treated early to help minimize long-term problems such as delayed speech and language development as well as being at risk of poor academic performance, usually with poorer vocabulary and simpler sentence structure than their normal-hearing peers, Tavora-Vieira said.
Gordon and her colleagues reviewed research from neuroscience, audiology and clinical settings “that points to the existence of an impairment of the central representation of the poorer hearing ear if developmental asymmetric hearing is left untreated for years,” they write.
“We suggest that asymmetric hearing in children be reduced by providing appropriate auditory prostheses in each ear with limited delay,” Gordon noted. “The type of auditory prosthesis will depend on the degree and type of hearing loss.”
According to the 2009 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, almost two in every 1,000 babies have some form of deafness discovered by early life screening.
With those kinds of numbers, what types of treatments are available for a child’s hearing loss? Currently, there is the cochlear implant for profound deafness, a hearing aid, a bone anchored hearing aid or a personal listening device like a radio-enabled ear-bud in the hearing ear. For the last treatment, a speaking source, like a teacher, speaks into a microphone, which transmits sound by FM signal to the ear-bud.
“Appropriate recommendations can be made by otolaryngologists and audiologists,” Gordon said.
Parents should seek a second opinion if a diagnosis is made and no options for rehabilitation are offered, Tavora-Vieira noted.
The research was published in the June online edition of Pediatrics.
Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/10/us-child-deafness-diagnosis-treatment-idUSKBN0OQ29A20150610