Survey: More than 1 in 20 U.S. children have dizziness, balance issues

May 19, 2016

by Chuan-Ming Li, MD, PhD

More than 1 in 20 (nearly 3.3 million) children between the ages of 3 and 17 have a dizziness or balance problem, according to an analysis of a large-scale, nationally representative survey of these problems in U.S. children.

Prevalence increases with age, with 7.5% of children ages 15-17 and 6% percent of children ages 12-14 having any dizziness or balance problem, compared with 3.6% of children ages 6-8 and 4.1% of children ages 3-5, the analysis found. The research was led by investigators at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health. The team also included Helen S. Cohen, EdD, OTR, from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, and from Rose Marie Rine, PhD, PT, from Marshall University, Huntington, W.Va.

Researchers found girls have a higher prevalence of dizziness and balance problems compared with boys, 5.7% and 5%, respectively. They also found non-Hispanic white children have an increased prevalence of dizziness and balance problems (6.1%) compared with Hispanic (4.6%) and non-Hispanic black (4.3%) children. The findings were published online Jan. 27 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

“These findings suggest that dizziness and balance problems are fairly common among children, and parents and providers should be aware of the impact these problems can have on our children,” James F. Battey Jr., MD, PhD, NIDCD director and a pediatrician, said in a news release. “Parents who notice dizziness and balance problems in their children should consult a healthcare provider to rule out a serious underlying condition.”

Previous estimates of dizziness and balance problems in children have ranged from 5% to 18% and have been based on limited, foreign, population-based studies. To better understand the prevalence of these problems among U.S. children, a team led by researchers from the epidemiology and statistics program at the NIDCD analyzed data from the Child Balance Supplement to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.

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