OBJECTIVE : This study aimed to describe the prevalence and characteristics of hearing loss in school-aged
children in an urban South African population.
METHOD : Children from grade one to three from five schools in the Gauteng Province of South Africa
formed a representative sample for this study. All children underwent otoscopic examinations,
tympanometry and pure tone screening (25 dB HL at 1, 2 and 4 kHz). Children who failed the screening
test and 5% of those who passed the screening test underwent diagnostic audiometry.
RESULTS : A total of 1070 children were screened. Otoscopic examinations revealed that a total of 6.6% ears
had cerumen and 7.5% of ears presented with a type-B tympanogram. 24 children (12 male, 12 female)
were diagnosed with hearing loss. The overall prevalence of hearing loss was 2.2% with Caucasian
children being 2.9 times more (95% confidence interval, 1.2–6.9) likely to have a hearing loss than African
CONCLUSION : Hearing loss prevalence in urban South African school-aged children suggest that many
children (2.2%) are in need of some form of follow-up services, most for medical intervention (1.2%) with
a smaller population requiring audiological intervention (0.4%).