Hearing loss has a tremendous effect on a child’s ability to develop speech, language, and social skills. Hearing loss can take place when any portion of the ear is not performing in the usual manner. These parts include the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, acoustic nerve, and the auditory system. It is a fact that the earlier a child receives hearing loss services, the better the chances are that they will attain their full potential. What will help increase the number of children who receive and benefit from these early intervention services? Furthermore, why do some children adapt while others do not? A databank in Australia may provide the answer.
So why do some children with hearing loss adapt while others have a difficult time? A databank that profiles children with hearing loss and has for the last eight years may explain the reason. The Victorian Childhood Hearing Impairment Longitudinal Databank (VicCHILD) is supplying data that indicates that language development and speech in children with hearing loss fall behind other children. This language development lags despite advancing techniques in the detection and intervention of hearing loss. The databank is available to researchers around the globe who seek answers regarding questions about hearing loss in children.
The detection of hearing loss is occurring earlier than ever before, thanks to newborn hearing screening. Since children with hearing loss can now access hearing aids, intervention services, and cochlear implants earlier than ever before, expectations are that these children will experience the same language and educational results as their peers who have normal hearing.
Unfortunately, early clinical diagnosis and intervention do not ensure equality in health outcomes. The results for children with hearing loss are below the population average and fall short of the children’s cognitive potential. A lack of population-based prospective research prevents researchers from understanding the reasons for inequality.
The VicCHILD is a population-based longitudinal databank in Victoria, Australia, that is available for any child with permanent hearing loss. 600 Australian infants receive a hearing loss diagnosis each year, and the databank is the product of 25 years of work. As of 2018, over 800 children are in the database. The research team expects over 1000 children by 2020. These children will face many language development and learning challenges as they grow. Medical costs are another burden, as are educational attainment and employment opportunities. The researchers hope the databank will improve the lives of children with hearing loss as well as lead to a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of multiple interventions.
The VicCHILD databank is confirming that children with hearing loss fall behind their peers with normal hearing. The research team hopes that by understanding interventions and their effectiveness, it may lead to better treatment outcomes while providing researchers around the world answers to their questions regarding hearing loss in children.