Hearing Aids in Children Associated with Improved Speech, Language Abilities

Bottom Line: Fitting children with mild to severe hearing loss (HL) with hearing aids (HAs) appears to be associated with better speech and language development.

Authors: J. Bruce Tomblin, Ph.D., of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and colleagues.

Background: Poor communication skills at the end of the preschool years can affect social, academic and work success later in life. Hearing loss in childhood is a contributor to poor speech and language development. HAs can enhance speech and language development.

How the Study Was Conducted: The authors examined aided speech and the duration of HA use on speech and language outcomes in 180 children (3- to 5-year-olds) with mild to severe HL. All but four children were fitted with HAs and standardized measures of speech and language ability were collected.

Results: Speech and language outcomes appear to be associated with aided hearing. Longer use of a HA was most beneficial for children.

Discussion: “This study shows that early provision of HAs to children with mild to severe HL is likely to result in better speech and language development, particularly when the child receives good audibility from HAs and has had a longer opportunity to wear the HA. Hence, early HA fitting is supported.”

(JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online April 3, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2014.267. 

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