Early Detection and Vocabulary of Children with Hearing Loss; New Vital Signs on Opioid Prescribing

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Early Detection and Vocabulary of Children with Hearing Loss
While hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop language and words, a study recently published in the journal, Pediatrics, entitled “Early Hearing Detection and Vocabulary of Children with Hearing Loss,” found that early diagnosis and intervention for children with hearing loss can help them develop these communication skills. In this study, children with hearing loss who were identified and received appropriate help early were more likely to have a much larger vocabulary than children who do not meet the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) 1-3-6 guidelines – the hearing of all infants should be screened at no later than 1 month of age; those who do not pass screening should have a hearing evaluation no later than 3 months of age; infants with confirmed hearing loss should receive appropriate intervention no later than 6 months of age (see the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing 2007 position statement for more information on the EHDI guidelines).

Important Findings from the Study:

The study looked at 448 children with hearing loss between 8 and 39 months of age across 12 states, and compared their vocabulary (spoken or using sign language) to the typical vocabulary of a child of the same age.

  • Children with hearing loss who met all three guidelines in the recommended time had much better vocabularies than those who were not identified or did not receive treatment within the 3 and 6 month guidelines, respectively.
  • 42% of participating children did not meet the important guidelines of having their hearing loss diagnosed by 3 months and beginning intervention by 6 months.

Families, pediatric healthcare providers, and hearing specialists all play a role in getting a child’s hearing assessed in a timely manner and achieving prompt enrollment in intervention, if necessary. This study shows that children with hearing loss who get hearing screening, diagnosis, and intervention services according to the EHDI 1-3-6 guidelines can have much better vocabulary development. More research is necessary to understand how children with hearing loss can continue to improve their vocabulary development as they grow older.

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