The effect of mild hearing loss on academic performance in primary school children

Mohd Khairi Md Daud, Rosli Mohd Noor, Normastura Abd Rahman, Din Suhaimi Sidek, Amran Mohamad
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2010, 74 (1): 67-70

OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of mild hearing loss and its association with academic performance among primary school children.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A comparative cross sectional study was conducted on standard (grade) five school children in a state in Malaysia. Five schools were selected by using simple random sampling. There were three classes (A, B and C) of standard five in each school. Student's selection into these classes was made by respective school administration based on their final term examination in standard four. Class A was for the best academic achievers while class C was for the poorest. Ear examinations were done followed by pure tone audiometry for confirmation of the hearing status. In this study, mild hearing loss was defined as an average threshold of 20-39 dB at 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 kHz. Data analysis was done using SPSS Version 12.0 software. Chi-square test was used to determine the association between mild hearing loss and academic performance. The significant level was set at p=0.05.

RESULTS: From a total of 257 students, 234 have completed the examinations (response rate=91.0%). Fifty-three percent of them were boys while 47% were girls. A hundred and forty-nine (63.7%) of them were from class A while 85 (36.3%) were from class C. The prevalence of hearing loss in our school population was 15% (95% CI: 11.0-20.0%). Thirty-two (88.9%) of them were having conductive type. Out of the total, 38.9% were having problems in both ears. The students who have poor academic performance have been shown to be significantly associated with mild hearing loss (p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: There was a high prevalence of mild hearing loss among primary school children. This problem could affect their academic performance. Therefore, hearing assessment is highly recommended to be done on every child especially to those who have poor academic achievement.


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