Children with hearing disability more at risk of asthma - new study


paediatric hearing

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Children with hearing loss have a higher likelihood of having asthma than many other disability categories, according to a comprehensive population study of association between development delay and asthma in US population-level data.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) studied data from the 2016-2017 National Survey of Children's Health, in total 71,811 families with children aged 0 to 18. Parents were asked if their child had an asthma diagnosis, as well as one or more developmental abilities including behavioural disorders, motor disabilities, vision impairment, hearing impairment, speech disabilities, cognitive disabilities, or an unspecified developmental delay.

While the odds of asthma were nearly threefold in children with a disability and towfold among children with a developmental delay vs peers with no disabilities or delay, it was children in the hearing-loss group who were at the highest odds for concurrent asthma. The public health researchers point out in their paper, in JAMA Network Open, that "the etiology of hearing loss could also include systemic hypoxia associated with asthma. Specifically, hypoxia decreases cerebral blood flow and causes inadequate blood supply in the cochlea and eventually leads to the development of hearing loss."

The study found that overall asthma prevalence estimates were 10 percentage points higher in children with a disability (approximately 16%) vs children without a disability (approximately 6%).

"Few previous studies have used population-based data to examine the associations between asthma and developmental disabilities and delays", said the researchers. Importantly, their study limitations include their inability to establish a temporal or a causal relationship because of the cross-sectional nature of the study.

"This research has shown that it's not just clinicians or pediatricians that should be aware that children with disabilities and delays may also have other health problems; it's also schools, after-school programs, and other community-wide programs," said Sarah Messiah, the study's senior author and professor of epidemiology, human genetics, and environmental sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health in Dallas.

"It's equally important to understand these children may not always be able to communicate their discomfort, especially when it comes to asthma," Messiah added.

The study team suggests the findings could lead to more discussion of challenges faced by children with asthma and a disability diagnosis, helping to bridge the gap between their healthcare needs, and increasing their quality of life.

But another key finding of the study was that US ethnic minority children are more likely to have concurrent asthma and developmental disabilities or delays compared with non-Hispanic white children.

"These findings support asthma screening in paediatric health care settings among patients with developmental disabilities and delays, particularly among those from ethnic minority backgrounds. In addition, very young children with asthma should be screened for disabilities and delays, because temporality cannot be determined by the current data source and analytical approach," the study underlines.

Source: Medical Express