Study Examines Effects of Aural Atresia on Speech Development, Learning

Daniel R. Jensen, M.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and colleagues examined the effects of aural atresia (AA, a congenital absence or stenosis of the external auditory canal with middle ear anomalies and almost always accompanied by a malformed or absent external ear) on speech development and learning.

In the researchers’ review of patient records, 74 patients met the criteria: 48 with right-sided AA, 19 with left-sided AA and seven with bilateral AA.

According to the results, children with AA had high rates of speech therapy (86 percent among bilateral and 43 percent among unilateral). Reports of school problems also were more common among children with right-sided AA (31 percent) than those with left-sided AA (11 percent) or bilateral AA (0 percent).

“Children with unilateral AA may be at greater risk of speech and learning difficulties than previously appreciated, similar to children with unilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Whether amplification may alleviate this risk is unclear and warrants further study,” the study concludes.

(JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online July 18, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.3859.