Objective: Hearing loss is an important health concern in Canada’s Arctic. The objective of this research was to provide information on the prevalence of childhood hearing loss in Nunavut.
Design: This cross-sectional study involved comprehensive audiologic assessments of school-aged children in six communities to determine overall and community-specific prevalence of hearing loss. Data were collected about hearing aid use and factors affecting use through a parent questionnaire.
Study sample: Assessments were completed for 644 children in kindergarten to grade 6.
Results: 124 (19.3%) children had hearing loss of ≥ 30 dB HL at one or more frequencies in at least one ear (93.5% conductive loss). Applying a Canadian prevalence study definition, 148 (23.5%) children had hearing loss. Tympanic membrane perforations were present in 36.8% (n = 28) of children with unilateral and 45.8% (n = 22) with bilateral loss.
Conclusions: The prevalence of hearing loss in Canada’s North was almost three times that reported for non-indigenous children. One in five school-aged children was found to have hearing loss that is likely to affect classroom learning and social/emotional development. A hearing health strategy tailored to this population is critically needed.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute