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The prevalence of hearing loss among schoolchildren with chronic suppurative otitis media in Nigeria, and its effect on academic performance

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December 1, 2008
by Fatai Olatoke, MBBS, Foluwasayo Emmanuel Ologe, MBBS, Clement C. Nwawolo, MBBS, and Mohammed Jimoh Saka, MBBS


We conducted a cross-sectional study to determine the prevalence of hearing loss among 1,500 Nigerian schoolchildren aged 9 to 15 years who had chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM). We also attempted to ascertain the effect that this hearing loss had on their academic performance. The study population was drawn from three schools in different socioeconomic tiers—low (n = 300), medium (n = 400), and high (n = 800). Overall, CSOM was present in 35 of these children (2.3%)—12 from the low-status school (4.0%), 11 from the middle-status school (2.8%), and 12 from the high-status school (1.5%); the overall difference in prevalence among the three schools was statistically significant (χ2 = 6.40; degrees of freedom [df] = 2; p = 0.04). In all, 52 ears were affected by CSOM; of these, 18 (34.6%) had a pure-tone average (PTA) within normal limits, 20 (38.5%) had a mild conductive hearing loss, and 14 (26.9%) had a moderate loss. All but 2 of 160 control ears (1.2%) had hearing thresholds within normal limits. The difference in PTAs across groups was statistically significant (χ2 = 114.89; df = 2; p< 0.001). As for academic performance, cumulative average test scores were significantly lower in the CSOM patients than in the controls—χ2 = 14.57; df = 3; p = 0.002. At the higher end of the academic scale, scores of 66% and higher were obtained by 40.0% of patients and 51.3% of controls, and scores of 50 to 65% were achieved by 20.0% of patients and 37.5% of controls. At the lower end, scores of 40 to 49% were obtained by 31.4% of patients and 6.3% of controls, and scores of 39% and lower were obtained by 8.6% and 5.0%, respectively. We conclude that hearing loss was a significant sequela of CSOM in our study population and that it had an adverse effect on their academic performance. Children in the low socioeconomic group appeared to be more vulnerable.

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