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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2001 May 11;58(3):205-10.

Hearing loss in speech-language delayed children.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Children's Hospital of Athens, 'P. & A. Kyriakou', Thivon & Livadias Street, 11527 Goudi, Athens, Greece.


An infant begins to communicate with his/her environment from the first months of life. However, true words do not appear until the age of 12-15 months, following a rather predictable sequence. Delay or failure of normal language development is not a rare situation in childhood and may be due to a variety of reasons. Among these, hearing undoubtedly plays a leading part in the language acquisition process. The purpose of this study was to assess the percentage of hearing-impaired children in a group of phenotypically healthy children presenting with speech-language delay. Between March 1993 and March 1999, 726 speech-language delayed children were examined in our department. In 72 of them, various diseases or syndromes had already been diagnosed and so they were excluded from the study. The remaining 654 apparently healthy children entered the study and underwent a thorough audiological assessment for determination of their hearing thresholds. Eighty-seven children (13.3%) showed various degrees of hearing loss. Most of them (55 children, 8.4%) suffered from sensorineural hearing impairment, while in 32 children (4.9%) a conductive hearing loss was discovered. The increased prevalence of hearing impairment found in our population mandates a thorough hearing evaluation for every case of speech-language delay, even for those children who show no evidence of other handicaps. This will help in the early diagnosis of hearing loss, allowing proper management to be instituted as early as possible.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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