FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A new research study published in the Ear and Hearing journal examines how environmental risk factors, such as lack of running water, correlates with ear infections in children in Western Alaska communities.
Co-author and NSHC Audiologist, Samantha Kleindienst-Robler and other researchers observed that the presence of running water in homes led to a decreased rate of ear infections over their two-year study.
The data was used from screenings between 2017 and 2019, in which children in the Bering Strait region had a 53% higher rate of middle ear infections if they did not have running water in their home. Those most at risk were younger children between the ages of 3 and 6.
In a bid to understand environmental factors in children’s ear diseases, the study did not find a link between other known risk factors like poor air quality from indoor smoking and wood-burning stoves, or crowded houses.
Middle ear disease and infection-related hearing loss are preventable illnesses, and children who live in homes without running water, particularly children ages 3 to 6 years, may benefit from earlier and more frequent hearing health evaluations, the study said.
Preventive hearing health services could include hearing screenings at well-child visits, school screenings, and check-ups with an audiologist.
Read the complete research study here.