High prevalence of hearing disorder in school kids

Three-year MAMC study of 15,000 school children across 30 primary schools finds that 17 per cent have aural disorders.

A three-year study of 15,000 primary school children in Delhi by the Maulana Azad Medical College found a high prevalence of hearing disorder with the potential to lead to deafness. Until now, this was considered to be a low-risk problem in India.

The findings of the study, published in The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, found the total prevalence of ear disorders to be around 17 per cent, all of which could potentially lead to deafness.

Dr Ankush Sayal, consultant ENT surgeon at the Maulana Azad Medical College and Lok Nayak Hospital and consulting author of the study, said: "The last extensive study on screening ear disorders was performed in 1964 where prevalence of diseases like ear infection was considerably lower, at around 2 per cent in India. Now, the prevalence is much higher. We may need to re-look our position as a low-prevalence country for ear diseases."

The 1964 study was published in the Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders a year later. In that study, 857 children in schools in southern India were screened and ear disorder prevalence of around 2 per cent was detected.

The Delhi study, conducted from 2008 to 2011 in 30 primary schools in the government sector, looked at children between the age of five and 12. Doctors visited schools and screened children using two tests — otoscopy (where an instrument is inserted to physically examine the ear) and audiometry (a hearing test).

Impacted cerumen or gross ear wax leading to deafness was found in 7.93 per cent of school children; 4.79 per cent suffered from chronic otitis media or severe ear infection in the ear canal or ear drum; 3.06 per cent suffered from otitis media with effusion — ear infection with presence of residual fluid.

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