Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hearing loss identification and intervention in children

Hearing loss identification and intervention in children

Hearing loss puts a child's normal speech and language development in jeopardy so it is imperative that any hearing impairment be identified in the first few years of a child’s life. A young child can experience hearing loss for different reasons. For instance, the most prevalent temporary impairment in a child’s ability to hear occurs due to an accumulation of fluid in the ear canal during a common cold or ear infection. However, youngsters with permanent damage or genetic hearing loss will need to be diagnosed as soon as possible by their primary care givers.

Prof. Anne Marie Tharpe, Professor & Chair, Department of Hearing & Speech, Sciences Associate Director, Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Centre, Tennessee, USA, speaking during the opening day of the seventh edition of the Middle East Update in Otolaryngology Exhibition & Conference – Head and Neck Surgery taking place from February 14 to 16, 2010, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, discussed the prevalence of developmental disabilities that occur with deafness and the identifying markers that audiologists should be aware of when diagnosing hearing impairment or loss versus other developmental disabilities in children, such as autism.

Produced by IIR Middle East Life Sciences Division, the organisers of Arab Health, Otolaryngology 2010 is accredited by the Cleveland Clinic. This CME event, supported by the UAE Ministry of Health, the Dubai Health Authority and the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), allows doctors to stay in touch with best practices by keeping their medical accreditation up-to-date.

“There are a number of risk factors that can result in developmental delays in children, including environmental exposures, meningitis and syndromes such as autism,” explained Prof. Tharpe. “Forty per cent of children who have hearing loss also experience other disabilities.

“According to the ASHA (American Speech-Language Hearing Association) 2004 guidelines on pediatric audiologic assessment, developmental screenings are an imperative step towards identifying other developmental disabilities associated with children with hearing loss. As audiologists, it is important for us to consider not just the ears of the child, but the child as a whole.”

Autism is typically identified 0.8 years later in children with hearing loss which is why Prof. Tharpe highlights the need for audiologists to continually update their knowledge of developmental disabilities in order to be aware of the common risk factors and markers that will speed up the identification.

“For example, children with hearing problems are two to three times more likely to develop visual impairments than their hearing peers,” said Prof. Tharpe. “On the other hand, children with hearing loss are expected to have gross motor skills (e.g. walking) on par with those who are not hearing-impaired. Some of the identifying markers associated with hearing loss can often overlap with autism which is why practitioners in our field of medicine must be aware of this.”

Running alongside the conference is an exhibition which demonstrates the latest technologies and product launches from manufacturers and distributors wishing to meet an influential body of senior otolaryngologists. Products such as hearing aids, laser machines, microsurgical instruments and sleep apnea devices will be on display.

For further information on Prof. Tharpe’s lecture series or details on attending the event, please call +971 (0)4 336 7334 or visit

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