Early Intervention May Speed Language Acquisition in Children With Hearing Loss Children with mild-to-severe hearing loss may develop language skills at a faster rate when they receive high-quality early intervention, according to a new large-scale, longitudinal study. The Outcomes of Children With Hearing Loss study—by researchers at the University of Iowa, Boys Town National Research Hospital and the University of North ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   February 01, 2016
Early Intervention May Speed Language Acquisition in Children With Hearing Loss
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Development / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   February 01, 2016
Early Intervention May Speed Language Acquisition in Children With Hearing Loss
The ASHA Leader, February 2016, Vol. 21, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.21022016.16
The ASHA Leader, February 2016, Vol. 21, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.21022016.16
Children with mild-to-severe hearing loss may develop language skills at a faster rate when they receive high-quality early intervention, according to a new large-scale, longitudinal study.
The Outcomes of Children With Hearing Loss study—by researchers at the University of Iowa, Boys Town National Research Hospital and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and published in the journal Ear and Hearing—found that children with hearing loss generally have poorer language development than their hearing peers, though well-fitting hearing aids increase the likelihood of children closing the gap or significantly improving their language skills.
“The cautionary note from our research is that any degree of hearing loss, even mild, can place children at risk” in terms of learning, speech, language and socialization, says Bruce Tomblin, professor emeritus in the University of Iowa’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “Our study shows that the risk can be minimized with early and aggressive intervention.”
Tomblin and Mary Pat Moeller, Tomblin’s co-principal investigator in the study and director of the Center for Childhood Deafness and the language development laboratory at Boys Town, collected data from children ages 6 months to 7 years old: 317 with hearing impairments (the majority identified through newborn hearing screenings) and 117 with normal hearing.

“Protection arises from properly fitted hearing aids that are used consistently, and providing a rich linguistic environment around the child.”

Although the study found that the effect of hearing loss on language intensifies as the amount of hearing loss increases, “protection arises from properly fit hearing aids that are used consistently, and providing a rich linguistic environment around the child,” Moeller says, “as well as making sure the families who need additional support and knowledge receive it.” More than half of children’s hearing aids were not well fitted, the study showed.
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February 2016
Volume 21, Issue 2