Ear health and hearing in urban Aboriginal children

Jack DeLacy, Leonie Burgess, Mandy Cutmore, Simone Sherriff, Susan Woolfenden, Kathleen Falster, Emily Banks, Alison Purcell, Kelvin Kong, Harvey Coates, John Curotta, Markeeta Douglas, Kym Slater, Aleathia Thompson, Jacqueline Stephens, Juanita Sherwood, Peter McIntyre, Jean Tsembis, Michelle Dickson, Jonathan CraigHasantha Gunasekera

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: Evaluate ear health and hearing among urban Aboriginal children and quantify relationships with child, family and social factors. Methods: Baseline questionnaire and ear health examinations from 1430 children with diagnoses (0.5-18 years) attending Aboriginal Health Services enrolled in SEARCH. Ear health outcomes were Otitis Media (OM), and hearing loss (three-frequency average hearing loss >20dB) diagnosed using pneumatic otoscopy, tympanometry, and audiometry. Results: Half the children 0.5-3 years had OM (51.5%, 136/264). One third 0.5-18 years (30.4%; 435/1430) had OM, including 1.8% (26/1430) with perforation (0.8% chronic suppurative OM, 0.6% dry perforation and 0.4% acute OM with perforation). One quarter 0.5-18 years (25.7%; 279/1087) had hearing loss; 12.4% unilateral, 13.2% bilateral (70.6% with bilateral loss had concurrent OM). OM was associated with: younger age (0.5-<3 years versus 6-18 years) age-sex-site; adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR)=2.64, 95%, 2.18-3.19); attending childcare/preschool (aPR=1.24, 95%CI, 1.04-1.49); foster care (aPR=1.40, 95%CI, 1.10-1.79); previous ear infection/s (aPR=1.68, 95%CI, 1.42-1.98); and ≥2 people/bedroom (aPR=1.66, 95%CI, 1.24-2.21). Hearing impairment was associated with younger age (0.5-<6 years vs. ≥6 years aPR=1.89, 95%CI, 1.40-2.55) and previous ear infection (aPR=1.87, 95%CI, 1.31-2.68). Conclusions: Half the urban Aboriginal children in this cohort had OM and two-thirds with hearing impairment had OM. Implications for Public Health: Findings highlight importance of early detection and support for ear health, particularly in pre-school-aged children with risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100075
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • otitis media
  • ear health
  • hearing
  • Indigenous
  • Aboriginal


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