Hearing impairments among Saudi preschool children.Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2012 Nov; 76(11):1674-7.IJ
Hearing loss among school-entrant children in the developing world has been widely reported as a significant health problem. Failure to detect hearing loss, either congenital or acquired, in children may result in lifelong deficits in speech and language acquisition. The aims of this study were: (1) to estimate the prevalence of hearing loss and (2) to identify its different types.
This is a cross-sectional study that included all children (n=2574) aged 4-8 years who attended the obligatory health examination for kindergarten (=370) and primary school (n=2204) entry at the school health center of King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from March 2009 to December 2010. Pure-tone air conduction audiometry was conducted for each child in a sound-treated room followed by a diagnostic test. Tympanometry was performed as a complement to the overall objectives of a hearing screening program.
A total of 45 children were diagnosed with hearing impairment (84.4% conductive and 15.6% sensori-neural), with an overall prevalence of 1.75% (95% C.I.: 1.25, 2.25). The majority of cases were females (71.1%), of school age (80.0%), with conductive deafness (84.4%). More than one-half of cases had bilateral deafness (55.6%) of mild degree (57.8%). As for conductive deafness, otitis media with effusion ranked first as a cause of deafness (34.9%), followed by wax and chronic otitis media (23.3% each), while traumatic perforated drum came last (2.3%). Sensorineural deafness constituted 16.2% of all cases.
Conductive hearing loss is the primary type of hearing loss among children and is easy to correct. The urgent development of audiological services in other school health centers in the country, particularly those with good referral systems to Ministry of Health hospitals, is needed. Evidence-based guidelines to identify, monitor, and manage otitis media with effusion (OME) in children in the primary healthcare setting and a strategy to prevent hearing loss are recommended.