The greater degree a child’s hearing loss, the harder it is for that child to keep up with normal-hearing peers. But a new study by the University of Iowa, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, shows hearing aids can make a big difference.
The study, published in the journal Ear and Hearing, looked at 317 kids with hearing loss. It found that hearing aids are important for the language, scholastic and social development of kids with moderate-to-severe hearing loss.
"We have a lot of information on children who are deaf. But we really don't know a whole lot about children who are hard of hearing." says researcher Beth Walker. "There was this big gap in our knowledge. Are they able to keep up with other kids at their school who don't have hearing loss? Once they've been identified with hearing loss are they getting the intervention that they need? Are they being fit with hearing aids and wearing the hearing aids?"
The researchers found that well-fitted hearing aids help mitigate disadvantages created by hearing loss, and the more a child wore the hearing aid, the greater the correction. Yet Walker says about 35 percent of the study’s hard-of-hearing participants were not optimally fitted with hearing aids by audiologists.
Researchers hope to continue the study into their subjects' middle school years.