Characterizing the speech-in-noise abilities of school-age children with a history of middle-ear diseases
Recently, a number of studies have indicated that recurrent or chronic middle-ear disease during early childhood may lead to long-term supra-threshold hearing deficits. The current study followed up on this by investigating differences in monaural and binaural hearing abilities in noise among school-age children with or without a history of middle-ear diseases. Groups of children aged 6-12 years with either a history of recurrent otitis media (OM) with infection or effusion or without any previous ear diseases participated. All participants had normal middle-ear function and normal audiometric hearing thresholds at the time of testing. Measurements included monaural and binaural speech reception thresholds in the presence of stationary noise or competing speech. Sensitivity to binaural phase information was also assessed. Preliminary analyses based on the data from the first 31 participants suggest that, on average, OM children have poorer thresholds in conditions with binaural or spatial differences compared to children without any previous middle-ear problems. Follow-up analyses based on a larger dataset will substantiate these initial findings and relate them to information obtainable from the OM children’s medical records (e.g., age of onset or duration of conductive hearing loss).
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