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May 17, 2016

Early intervention benefits children with hearing loss

Children with hearing loss experience improved language development when treated early and with well-fitted hearing aids.

Early intervention benefits children with hearing loss

The language development in children with hearing loss improves with early intervention. This is the result of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa, Boys Town National Research Hospital, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the US. 

The study examined the impact of early identification and intervention on children with hearing loss. The researchers discovered that children with mild to severe hearing loss as a group have poorer language development than their hearing peers and the impact of hearing loss on language increases as the amount of hearing loss increases.

Well-fitted hearing aids are the key

The study also revealed that providing children with well-fit hearing aids is associated with better rates of language development. Importantly the study also discovered that many hard of hearing children who receive optimal, early services are able to “catch up or significantly close the gaps with their hearing peers,” according to Bruce Tomblin, an emeritus professor at The University of Iowa’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

“Hearing well is crucial to developing linguistic skills, building social connections, and succeeding in life,” says Mary Pat Moeller, director of the Center for Childhood Deafness and the language development laboratory at the Boys Town National Research Hospital. 

Newborn hearing screenings lead the way

The majority of the children involved in the study were identified through newborn hearing screenings. The study, which was published in the journal Ear and Hearing, collected data from 317 children ranging in age from six months to seven years who were hard of hearing and a comparison group of 117 children with normal hearing. 

“One of the reasons there hasn’t been a study like this before is that we’ve only been doing newborn screenings for 10 years. Before universal newborn hearing screenings, we weren’t catching kids with hearing loss until they were already through some very important stages in language development,” says Ryan McCreery, another researcher involved in the study.

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