There is a need for regular surveillance of the hearing of children, no matter what their age. Screening of the hearing of school children can be done quickly and cheaply using teleaudiology. The primary aim of this study was to identify children who showed a suspected hearing impairment from rural areas of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region and refer them for further audiological testing. A secondary aim was to estimate the prevalence of hearing loss in those children.
There were 4754 children, made up of 1840 children aged 6-7 years old and 2914 children aged 12-13 years old. Pure-tone air conduction thresholds were obtained at 0.5-8 kHz. Audiometric test was supplemented by results of a brief questionnaire filled in by parents.
Of the 4754 children, 618 (13%) failed screening and were referred for detailed audiological diagnostics. The prevalence of hearing loss was estimated to be 7% and was significantly higher (OR = 2.12) in the group aged 6-7 y/o (10.1%) than in the group aged 12-13 y/o (5.0%). In our study the estimated prevalence of HL was twice as high in children aged 6-7 y/o (10.1%) than in children 12-13 y/o (5.0%). This difference was also evident in another study of Polish children from rural areas, where the prevalence of HL was 11.4% in younger children (6-9 y/o) and 5.5% in older children (12-13 y/o).
Large numbers of school-age children in rural areas have hearing problems. It is recommended that a hearing screening program in primary schools based on e-health solutions should be adopted.