Prevalence of Auditory Processing Disorder in School-Aged Children in the Mid-Atlantic Region

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Abstract

Background:

Although auditory processing disorder (APD) is a widely recognized impairment, its prevalence and demographic characteristics are not precisely known in the pediatric population.

Purpose:

To examine the demographic characteristics of children diagnosed with APD at a tertiary health-care facility and the prevalence of pediatric APD.

Research Design:

A cross-sectional study.

Study Sample:

A total of 243 children (149 boys and 94 girls) who were referred to the Nemours Audiology Clinics in the Delaware Valley for an APD evaluation. The mean ages were 9.8 yr for boys and 9.7 yr for girls. Out of 243 children referred for an APD evaluation, 94 children exhibited one or more auditory processing deficits in the areas of auditory closure, auditory figure ground, binaural integration, binaural separation, and temporal processing.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Demographic and audiological data, clinical history (parental reports on prenatal and postnatal information, birth weight and height, medical and developmental history, otologic/audiological history, education information, behavioral characteristics), and results of the APD test battery were retrospectively obtained from the electronic medical records of each participant. The prevalence of APD was estimated using the total number of students enrolled in the same school attended by each participant in the 2011 academic year as cohort.

Results:

The prevalence of APD was 1.94 per 1,000 children in this study. We found that prevalence of APD among the children who attended private schools was more than two times higher than the children who attended public schools. The results also revealed that the majority of children referred to the clinics were Caucasian (85.6%), whereas minority groups were underrepresented for this geographical area with only 3.7% of Hispanic or Latino children and 5.8% of Black or African American children.

Conclusions:

The estimated prevalence of APD in the current study was lower than the previously published estimates. The difference might be due to the diagnosis criteria of APD among studies as well as the use of school enrollment number as the referenced population to estimate prevalence in our study. We also found a significant difference in APD prevalence depending on the school types. The findings of higher prevalence rates among the children attending private schools and higher proportion of Caucasians children referred for APD evaluation suggest that more children among those in public schools and in the Hispanic and African American groups should have been referred for an APD evaluation. Hence, the current estimate is likely an underestimate of the actual APD prevalence. The low percentage of Hispanic or African American children referred to the clinic for APD evaluations may be related to the socioeconomic status and linguistic differences among the concerned families. The results of this study raise the importance of adapting the APD test battery for children with a different linguistic background as well as increasing awareness of available clinical resources to all families in our area.

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