Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study
The LOCHI study is a population-based longitudinal study that prospectively evaluates the development of a group of Australian children with hearing loss as they grow up. This study is unique in its inclusion of children whose hearing loss was diagnosed through either Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS), or standard care; and all of whom access the same post-diagnostic services provided by the national audiological service provider, Australian Hearing. This means that their results can be fairly compared, whenever and wherever their hearing loss was discovered.
This study addresses the following research questions:
- Does Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) and early intervention improve the outcomes of children with hearing loss at a population level?
- What factors influence the outcomes of children with hearing loss?
- Can early performance predict later outcomes of children with hearing loss?
This study is partly supported by the US National Institutes of Health and the HEARing CRC.
Approximately 460 children across QLD, VIC and NSW have been enrolled in the study. They are tested by our researchers at different times as they grow up. We collect information about the children’s speech and language skills, literacy and numeracy skills, academic achievement, psycho-social development, and cognition. At every test interval, we also collect demographic information about the child, the child’s family and the intervention that the child receives.
When LOCHI children were assessed at 5 years of age,
- Children with hearing loss discovered via UNHS at birth and who received early intervention had better spoken language abilities than those whose hearing loss was discovered later than this. On average, children fitted with hearing aids before 6 months of age had higher language scores than those fitted later. For children with severe or profound hearing loss, those who received a cochlear implant before 12 months of age had significantly higher language scores than those who received a cochlear implant at an older age;
- Many children had marked deficits in pre-reading skills compared to their normal-hearing peers.
We hope to continue following the development of the children as they grow up.
Our Team is led by Dr Teresa Ching with the support of project coordinators, research audiologists, and research speech pathologists who are based in NSW, QLD and VIC. Staff profiles can be viewed on our website: http://outcomes.nal.gov.au/staff-nsw.html
Project Update 29.08.2016
We are currently testing our LOCHI participants as they turn 9 years old. It has been great to catch up with the children to see how they are progressing now that they are attending primary school. We expect to finish testing all children by the end of 2017.