Purpose

This study examined the effects of consistent hearing aid (HA) use on outcomes in children with mild hearing loss (HL).

Method

Five- or 7-year-old children with mild HL were separated into 3 groups on the basis of patterns of daily HA use. Using analyses of variance, we compared outcomes between groups on speech and language tests and a speech perception in noise task. Regression models were used to investigate the influence of cumulative auditory experience (audibility, early intervention, HA use) on outcomes.

Results

Full-time HA users demonstrated significantly higher scores on vocabulary and grammar measures compared with nonusers. There were no significant differences between the 3 groups on articulation or speech perception measures. After controlling for the variance in age at confirmation of HL, level of audibility, and enrollment in early intervention, only amount of daily HA use was a significant predictor of grammar and vocabulary.

Conclusions

The current results provide evidence that children's language development benefits from consistent HA use. Nonusers are at risk in areas such as vocabulary and grammar compared with other children with mild HL who wear HAs regularly. Service providers should work collaboratively to encourage consistent HA use.

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