New research, led by investigators at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), found that dizziness and balance problems are common among U.S children. Dizziness and balance issues could be symptoms of greater underlying issues. If your child is suffering from any of these symptoms, the findings in this research might benefit you.

Research Findings

What makes this research different from previous studies on the subject is that this is the first large-scale survey that has national representation. The study analyzed data from 11,000 children, ages 3 to 17. The data was based on parents’ responses to the survey, which asked if their child suffered from indicators such as vertigo, poor balance problems when standing up, clumsiness/poor coordination, frequent falls, and fainting or light-headedness.

Researchers found that more than 1 in 20 (nearly 3.3 million) children have dizziness and balance problems. When it comes to which children display higher incidences of dizziness and balance problems, girls tend to have more problems (5.7 percent) compared to boys (5.0 percent), and non-Hispanic white children have more problems (6.1 percent) than non-Hispanic black children (4.3 percent).

James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D, director of the NIDCD and a pediatrician states, “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.” This is important news for parents because Dr. Battey goes on to say, “Parents who notice dizziness and balance problems in their children should consult a health care provider to rule out a serious underlying condition.”

Underlying Causes of Dizziness and Balance Problems

Some of the underlying causes of dizziness and balance problems in children include:

  • Neurological problems,
  • Ear infections,
  • Head or neck injuries or concussions
  • Developmental motor coordination disorder,
  • Genetic causes,
  • Metabolic problems such as hypoglycemia,
  • Prescription medication or drugs,
  • Severe headaches or migraines,
  • Malformation of the ear, and
  • Vision problems.

Parents should check up on their children’s condition, especially if they have hearing problems. Children with hearing problems are twice as likely to suffer from dizziness or balance issues. Even worse, dizziness and balance problems are related to impairments that limit a child’s ability to crawl, walk, run or play; cause frequent headaches or migraines; and lead to developmental delays. The child might also have a history of seizures in the last 12 months.

As a plea that more research needs to be done on the subject, Howard J. Hoffman, M.A., co-author of the study and director of epidemiology and statistics at the NIDCD states, “Dizziness and balance problems in children continue to be an understudied area, and we hope that this analysis leads to a better understanding of the scope and risk factors associated with these issues.”