Maternal Hearing Loss Linked to Infant Prematurity, Low Weight Women with hearing loss may be more likely to deliver premature babies or babies with low birth weight, finds a Brandeis University study of birth outcomes. “There have not yet been any population-based studies about pregnancy experiences and outcomes among women with hearing loss, although a recent study of deaf ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   January 01, 2017
Maternal Hearing Loss Linked to Infant Prematurity, Low Weight
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Hearing Disorders / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   January 01, 2017
Maternal Hearing Loss Linked to Infant Prematurity, Low Weight
The ASHA Leader, January 2017, Vol. 22, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.22012017.14
The ASHA Leader, January 2017, Vol. 22, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.22012017.14
Women with hearing loss may be more likely to deliver premature babies or babies with low birth weight, finds a Brandeis University study of birth outcomes.
“There have not yet been any population-based studies about pregnancy experiences and outcomes among women with hearing loss, although a recent study of deaf women’s experiences with prenatal care found they were less satisfied with their care and were more likely to have fewer prenatal visits than hearing women,” says lead author Monika Mitra, associate professor at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy within the Brandeis Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
Using the 2008–2011 Nationwide Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project to compare birth outcomes of women with and without hearing loss, Mitra and her team analyzed data from nearly 18 million deliveries, 10,462 of which were by women with hearing loss.

Nearly one in seven women (13.3 percent) with hearing loss used Medicare to cover delivery costs, while only 0.6 percent of women without hearing loss used Medicare.

In addition to finding that women with hearing loss were more likely to give birth to premature babies and babies with low birth weight, the researchers also found that women with hearing loss most commonly used Medicare and Medicaid for their delivery hospitalizations; women without hearing loss most commonly used private insurance. Nearly one in seven women (13.3 percent) with hearing loss used Medicare to cover delivery costs, while only 0.6 percent of women without hearing loss used Medicare.
The researchers also found that women with hearing loss were almost twice as likely to have one or more comorbidities, and they were more likely to be admitted to urban teaching hospitals.
“Understanding and addressing the causes of these disparities is critical to improving pregnancy outcomes among women with hearing loss,” the authors write in the study, which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. They note several potential causes and contributors, including the fact that hearing loss can be a communication barrier, and poor communication can affect a variety of health-related outcomes.
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January 2017
Volume 22, Issue 1