An Australian long term study has found evidence that fitting hearing aids by six months or cochlear implants by 12 months benefits a child’s development.
The study has followed 450 Australian children with hearing loss. From birth and through school, the children’s long-term speech, language, psycho-social and educational outcomes have been measured and compared.
Lead researcher of the study, Dr. Teresa Ching, stresses the importance of early intervention:
“Our assessment of the children at 5 years clearly shows that the earlier the intervention the better the outcome for the child’s development. Early detection and early treatment is vital before development delays set in,” she says.
Important for children and society
The study also shows specific deficits in pre-reading skills. It is necessary to focus on developing these skills for early intervention to have a full effect on the child, the study concludes.
According to Dr. Ching, hearing loss has negative effects on both children and society, which is why it is crucial to detect and treat hearing loss from an early age.
The researchers are now well on their way to completing 9-year-old assessments.
“As children start school, many factors affect their development and educational attainment and we are continuing to access speech, language and functional skills”, Dr Ching says.
The study is supported by a control group of children with normal hearing in order to compare the differences in the development of children with and without hearing loss.
The study is a joint project between Australia’s National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) and Hearing Cooperative Research Centre.