Academic, behavioural and quality of life outcomes of slight to mild hearing loss in late childhood: A population-based study

Jing Wang, Jon Quach, Valerie Sung, Peter Carew, Ben Edwards, Anneke Grobler, Lisa Gold, Melissa Wake*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective To investigate the associations of hearing thresholds and slight to mild hearing loss with academic, behavioural and quality of life outcomes in children at a population level. Methods Design and participants:children aged 11-12 years in the population-based cross-sectional Child Health CheckPoint study within the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Audiometry:mean hearing threshold across 1, 2 and 4 kHz (better and worse ear); slight/mild hearing loss (threshold of 16-40 decibels hearing loss (dB HL)). Outcomes: National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy, language, teacher-reported learning, parent and teacher reported behaviour and self-reported quality of life. Analysis:linear regression quantified associations of hearing threshold/loss with outcomes. Results Of 1483 children (mean age 11.5 years), 9.2% and 13.1% had slight/mild bilateral and unilateral hearing loss, respectively. Per SD increment in better ear threshold (5.7 dB HL), scores were worse on several academic outcomes (eg, reading 0.11 SD, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.16), parent-reported behaviour (0.06 SD, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.11) and physical (0.09 SD, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.14) and psychosocial (0.06 SD, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.11) Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL). Compared with normally hearing children, children with bilateral slight/mild losses scored 0.2-0.3 SDs lower in sentence repetition, teacher-reported learning and physical PedsQL but not other outcomes. Similar but attenuated patterns were seen in unilateral slight/mild losses. Conclusions Hearing thresholds and slight/mild hearing loss showed small but important associations with some child outcomes at 11-12 years. Justifying hearing screening or intervention at this age would require better understanding of its longitudinal and indirect effects, alongside effective management and appropriate early identification programmes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1056-1063
    Number of pages8
    JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


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