A number of factors can affect your child’s performance in school, such as family environment and socioeconomic status. A new study found that children with mild hearing loss may do a little less well in school and may be a bit more likely to develop behavior problems.
Dr. Carlijn le Clercq of Erasmus University Medical Center and lead author of the study titled “Association of Slight to Mild Hearing Loss With Behavioral Problems and School Performance in Children,” hopes to raise awareness that slight hearing loss has more of an effect in daily life than many assume.
The Study Specifics
The Dutch researchers studied 4,779 children born between 2002 and 2006. They focused on children who had trouble hearing tones below 25 decibels. Those with moderate or severe hearing loss were excluded.
“Rustling leaves are approximately 20 decibels,” le Clercq explained. “Maybe it is not a big deal if you can’t hear rustling leaves. However, (for people who can’t), almost all normal speech will be softer in their ears. You can imagine it takes more effort to understand that speech, especially if it is like that all day long.”
Children between the ages of 9 and 11 had their hearing checked in a quiet room. A small group of those students completed a second exam, this time testing their ability to hear speech in a noisy environment.
The researchers found that school performance and behavioral problems worsened as hearing declined.
How to Help Children with Mild Hearing Loss
“Children with slight hearing loss may benefit from a seat in the front of the classroom close to their teacher,” explained le Clercq. Dr. David Chi, who coauthored an editorial accompanying the study agrees with the study’s findings.
Mild hearing loss can make it hard for kids to make out “certain words when there is more background noise in the classroom,” Chi said. The noise could simply come from “the chatter of peers or the sound coming from the heating or cooling system.” In addition to moving students with hearing loss to the front of the classroom, Chi suggests that “teachers with softer voices be equipped with microphones.”
If your child is having trouble keeping up in school or their attention span is limited, consider getting their hearing tested. Even mild hearing loss can make it hard for a child to pay attention. Contact the experts at Central Plains ENT today to get started.