Finished | Paediatric hearing loss

Speech production of Australian children with mild hearing loss at 5 years of age: preparing children for school

Project Goals 

This study draws on data collected as part of the Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study to examine if children with mild bilateral hearing loss (MBHL) have more speech errors than children with normal hearing at 5 years of age. 

We sought answers to the following two questions:

(1) Does the speech of children with MBHL vary from their normal hearing peers? and
(2) Does the age of hearing device fitting and the number of hours spent in early intervention affect the speech of children with MBHL? 


At 5 years of age, the speech of children with MBHL had more errors compared to their age-matched peers with normal hearing. In addition to a higher number of errors, the type of errors typically made at that age differed. Compared to peers with normal hearing, children with MBHL tended to simplify sounds (e.g., tuck for truck), delete syllables and final sounds (e.g., puter for computer or bu for bus), and replace harder-to-produce sounds (e.g., pish for fish).  Neither the age at which children received a hearing device nor the number of hours these children attended early intervention affected the number of speech errors made. 

In conclusion, our research shows that even a mild bilateral hearing loss can compromise a child’s speech production, at 5 years of age. These children will thus need careful monitoring/support to make sure they are ‘school ready’.  

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