March 2020 Hearing Australia
Hearing Australia is encouraging parents to check their child’s hearing health to ensure they have a sound start to school this year. World leading research by the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), the research division of Hearing Australia, has established that the earlier a child with hearing loss can be fitted with a hearing aid or cochlear implant, the better the outcomes. Results from NAL’s Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study show that early fitting of hearing devices is key to achieving better speech, language and psychosocial outcomes for children with hearing loss. “The results show that children who receive early fitting of hearing devices and early educational intervention have significantly better language outcomes at 5 and 9 years of age, on average, than those whose hearing loss was discovered later,” says Dr Teresa Ching, Head of the Communication Sciences Department at NAL.
The third wave of the LOCHI study commenced in 2019 and will run until 2024. It will address the current evidence gaps on the long-term effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of early hearing intervention. "It's critical for parents to be aware of these findings so that they and their healthcare professionals are prompted to take immediate action if they suspect a child may have a hearing problem,” explains Dr Brent Edwards, Director of NAL. “Children should receive regular hearing checks as they would receive their general health check-ups. It’s important that parents understand that hearing health plays a vital role in a child’s mental wellbeing and development,” says Dr Edwards.
LOCHI Wave III will investigate the effects of early hearing intervention on educational attainment, mental health and quality of life of children with hearing loss at 18 years of age. In addition, it will quantify the economic impact of permanent childhood hearing loss. The findings will provide important evidence to guide the hearing healthcare roadmap across an individual’s lifespan. In addition, the evidence will guide healthcare workers, professionals and policy-makers to support and optimise outcomes for children with hearing loss.
“Hearing Australia cares for the hearing health of some 33,000 children and young adults up to the age of 26," says Mr Kim Terrell, Hearing Australia Managing Director. “We’re focused on delivering a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the incidence of preventable childhood hearing loss, which is estimated to be 49%. If parents and families have any concerns or questions about their child’s hearing health, we invite them to come and talk to our team of professionals to help ensure better future outcomes for their child.”