In a study published in July’s JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, researchers examined the effects of aural atresia (AA) on speech development and learning in children, and found a greater risk of speech and learning difficulties.

Led by Daniel R. Jensen, MD, of the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and colleagues, researchers reviewed patient records of 74 AA patients: 48 had right-sided AA, 19 had left-sided AA, and 7 had bilateral AA.

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

The study concludes, “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.”

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