[ Watch the Video: Teens and Tweens Should Get Tested for Hearing Loss ]
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Parents strongly favor required hearing screenings for children and teens under the age of 18, according to results released Monday from the University of Michigan´s National Poll on Children’s Health.
The poll asked the parents whether they´d support requirements for hearing screening, and where they would prefer to have the screenings conducted.
The results showed that two-thirds of parents support hearing screenings across all ages. Broken down by age group, 77 percent of the parents said they support required hearing screenings for 2- to 3-year-olds, 82 percent support the screenings for 6- to 7-year-olds, 71 percent supporting screening 10- to 11-year-olds and 67 percent supporting screening for 16- to 17-year-olds.
“Screening in preschool and elementary school-age children is routine in many states. That screening is very effective at identifying children with hearing loss that can impact communication. Screenings can help get children the treatment they need before they experience delays in speech, language, and learning,” said Jaynee Handelsman, Ph.D., director of pediatric audiology for the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, which directed the poll.
“What was surprising about the poll results was the overwhelming support for required hearing screening for older children and teenagers,” Handelsman said.
“Hearing screening for tweens and teens is uncommon. However, as the parents in our poll recognize, children in these age groups may develop hearing loss as time goes on, possibly from extended listening to loud noise, such as through personal, portable listening devices like MP3 players.”
The poll results are encouraging, Handelsman said, because they show parents recognize the need for continual screening.
This is important because a student might pass the hearing tests as a kindergartener, but develop hearing loss or hearing problems later in life.
Exposure to loud music through earbuds, headphones and personal audio devices can be damaging, but the duration of sound can be just as damaging, Handelsman explained.
If children are constantly bombarded with sound — from music players, computers, televisions, video games — they reach a point where they’ve simply heard too much.
“We really wanted to know how parents felt about requiring hearing screenings, and no one had asked the public about this before,” said Dr. Marci Lesperance, division chief of pediatric otolaryngology at the University of Michigan Health System.
“Hearing screenings are usually managed through public health departments, and as government budgets are squeezed, funding for these screenings is at risk.”
“Hearing loss is an invisible disability, and does not result in hospitalization if untreated – but the costs can be social, emotional, and educational.”
The results of the poll also revealed that parents are more likely to prefer the primary care office for hearing screenings in preschoolers and 6- to 7-year-olds, but prefer school-based screenings for tweens and teens.
The full C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health can be viewed here.