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ASHA Podcast Offers Parents Tips On Infants And Hearing Aids

ASHA Podcast Offers Parents Tips On Infants And Hearing Aids Consistency Of Use Important For Speech, Language Development

(Rockville, MD - May 26, 2009) The barriers and challenges parents face when ensuring their infant uses hearing aids consistently is the focus of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (ASHA) latest podcast (www.asha.org/podcast).

Researcher and ASHA member Mary Pat Moeller, PhD, and Jennifer Johnson, the mother of a hearing-impaired child, discuss the importance of using hearing aids consistently. The duo offers additional information and tips that can help parents help their baby - and themselves - adjust when the very young wear hearing aids.

Getting the word out is important because the challenges involved have serious potential amifications and the number of babies who need hearing aids is more than the public may think. Inconsistent use of hearing aids can delay speech and language learning, especially during the first few years of life. Out of every 1,000 babies born, two to three have some degree of hearing loss, equaling 12,000 babies annually. While most will need hearing aids, their parents could be faced with situations that lead to their babies not using the aids as often as they should.

Dr. Moeller has a research paper,"Consistency of Hearing Aid Use in Infants with Early-Identified Hearing Loss" in the June 2009 American Journal of Audiology, ASHA's twice-yearly journal of clinical practice for audiologists and hearing researchers. The paper can be read at aja.asha.org. Drawing upon her research findings in the podcast, Dr. Moeller discusses reasons for inconsistency of hearing aid use which amounts to the baby pulling the device out of its ear. They include that the baby realizes he gains parental attention, is curious about the device, has pain from an ear infection, or hears feedback when riding in a car.

Listeners to ASHA's podcast will learn that consistent use of hearing aids is important because infants' brains are wired for learning, and during the first few years of life babies gain auditory experience just by listening in to the conversations that are around them.

"Bilateral hearing aids help to compensate for an infants' hearing loss," according to Dr. Moeller. "If the baby goes for periods without wearing these hearing aids, this nice language exposure around them will be reduced or distorted. And, so, our goal is just to optimize the baby's listening time, hopefully all day long."

Jennifer Johnson, mother of three-year-old hearing-impaired Danielle, knows how important hearing aids are. After failing her new born hearing screening test six times, Danielle was finally fitted with a hearing aid at six and a half months old.

"You could tell right away it worked," Ms. Johnson tells podcast listeners. "[Danielle] loves to wear [her hearing aids]. They're very beneficial to her. I don't think that she would be doing as well as she is with her speech and language development or her comprehension had she not received them...They are the first thing she asks for when she wakes up in the morning." Johnson also agrees that parental vigilance is important when ensuring their children are wearing hearing aids when they should.

Parents who seek advice about the hearing of their children should visit www.asha.org/findpro to find an audiologist in their area.

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