The purpose of this study was to compare speech production at 12 months of age for children with hearing loss (HL) who were identified and received intervention before 6 months of age with those of children with normal hearing (NH).


The speech production of 10 children with NH was compared with that of 10 children with HL whose losses were identified (better ear pure-tone average at 0.5, 1, and 2 kHz poorer than 50 dB HL) and whose intervention started before 6 months of age. These children were recorded at 12 months of age interacting with a parent. Three properties of speech production were analyzed: (a) syllable shape, (b) consonant type, and (c) vowel formant frequencies.


Children with HL had (a) fewer multisyllable utterances with consonants, (b) fewer fricatives and fewer stops with alveolar-velar stop place, and (c) more restricted front-back tongue positions for vowels than did the children with NH.


Even when hearing loss is identified shortly after birth, children with HL do not develop speech production skills as their peers with NH do at 12 months of age. This suggests that researchers need to consider their approaches to early intervention carefully.


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