COMPARISON OF THE FREQUENCY OF POSITIVE HEARING SCREENING OUTCOMES IN SCHOOLCHILDREN FROM POLAND AND OTHER COUNTRIES OF EUROPE, CENTRAL ASIA, AND AFRICA
Piotr Skarżyński, Adam Piłka, Maciej Ludwikowski, Magdalena B Skarżyńska
(World Hearing Center, Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, Warsaw, Poland)
JHS 2014; 4(4): OA51-58
Universal newborn hearing screening programs have been successfully implemented in many countries, and result in early intervention and therapy. However, there are also a significant number of schoolchildren who have hearing problems. This study presents the results of a program of hearing screening in schoolchildren, implemented in Poland and subsequently followed up in other countries in support of the European Consensus on school-age hearing screening. The aim was to compare the frequency of positive outcomes of hearing screening between the countries.
Material and Methods: Screening outcomes from the following countries were compared: Poland, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast. Screening was performed using the Sense Examination Platform, developed in Warsaw, Poland, by the Institute of Sensory Organs and the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing. The Platform comprises a central computer and a number of other portable computers communicating with the central database via the Internet, and can perform pure tone audiometry and other hearing, speech, and vision tests. It also records the answers to an audiological questionnaire. The test was considered to be positive when pure tone audiometry was higher than 20 dB HL for at least one frequency.
Results: Among children aged 6–8 years from Poland the rate of positive results was 13.9%, while in children aged 12–15 years it was 8.5%. From the other European countries in which 462 children were tested, positive results occurred in 62 (13.4%). In four countries of Central Asia, positive outcomes of hearing screening were found in 216 children from 1011 tested (21.4%). In two African countries, positive results were found in 105 children from 321 tested (32.7%). The questionnaire surveys have shown that more than 30% of children with normal hearing have tinnitus, and the figure rises to nearly 50% in children with an abnormal result. Only 33% of children with hearing problems reported them to parents. In Poland, only 40% of children with hearing loss are under the care of a specialist, compared with only about half that number in children from Tajikistan and Moldova.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that there are many children in primary schools who have hearing problems, and this situation may affect their education. The solution could be screening programs conducted directly in schools by trained school personnel (e.g. school nurses). The program of hearing screening in schoolchildren described here has helped to raise awareness of the importance of hearing conservation and inspired the development of new programs.
Keywords: Hearing Loss, Mass Screening, Population, Tinnitus