OBJECTIVES: It is known that during the middle childhood years those with permanent childhood hearing loss (PCHL) are at increased risk of showing emotional and behaviour difficulties (EBD). It has yet to be established whether this risk continues into the late teenage years. There is a paucity of longitudinal studies on the association between PCHL and EBD. METHODS: The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was used to measure EBD based on parent, teacher and self-ratings in 76 teenagers with PCHL and 38 in a hearing comparison group (HCG) from a population sample of children that was followed up from birth to adolescence. RESULTS: On parent-rated SDQ, the PCHL group had significantly higher Total Difficulties score than the HCG (Standardised mean difference (SMD) = +0.39, 95%CI 0.00 to 0.79). Amongst the PCHL group the presence of disabilities other than hearing loss had a substantial impact on the level of parent-rated EBD (SMD = +1.68, 1.04 to 2.33). There was a relationship between receptive language ability and EBD in both the HCG (r = -0.33, 95%CI -0.59 to -0.01) and the PCHI group (r = -0.33, 95%CI -0.53 to -0.02). The effect of PCHL on EBD became non-significant when receptive language was included as a covariate (F = 0.12, df = 1,95, p = 0.729). Early confirmation of hearing loss (i.e. before 9 months of age) did not have a significant effect on EBD scores (SMD = +0.31, 95%CI -0.15 to 0.77). CONCLUSIONS: PCHL continues to be associated with elevated EBD scores as measured by parent rated SDQ into the late teenage years but the degree of this elevation is less than in childhood and is not apparent on teacher or self-ratings. Poor receptive language ability appeared to account for these elevated EBD scores in the group with PCHL. Particular attention needs to be paid to the mental health of children and adolescents with PCHL that is accompanied by other disabilities and to those with poor receptive language ability. However, the majority of teenagers with PCHL do not show clinically significant elevated levels of EBD.