Deafness in one ear stunts childrens’ language learning skills


In some ways the findings of this research seem strange, but in another way, it makes sense.

Children with hearing loss in one ear have lower speech-language scores than siblings with normal hearing, new research shows.

A team of scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis recruited 74 children from the St. Louis region between the ages of 6 and 12 with one-sided hearing loss. Each child was compared to a sibling with normal hearing.

This allowed the researchers to take into account the possible effects of environmental and genetic factors on language skills.

The research showed that the siblings who were deaf in one ear had poorer oral language skills than their aurally fit siblings.

“The effect of hearing loss in one ear may be subtle”, says Judith E C Lieu MD, a a Washington University professor and ear, nose and throat specialist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “These children may shun large group situations because the noise overwhelms them, and they have a hard time understanding speech.”

Deafness in only one ear also affects a child’s ability to play team sports, since it’s much harder to locate the source of calls and other noises, and depending on which way they’re facing, they might not be able to hear some calls at all.

Estimates from the research conducted showed than as many as 1 in 50 school-aged children in the US have only partial hearing in one ear.