Many Hearing Impaired Kids Don't Use, Have Access to Hearing Aids

The Nation's Health, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Many Hearing Impaired Kids Don't Use, Have Access to Hearing Aids


ONLY 12 percent of U.S. children with hearing loss use hearing aids, and one out of five parents say they are unable to afford hearing assistance devices, according to a recent study released by the Better Hearing Institute.

The study, published in the September issue of Hearing Review, also found that at least 50 percent of parents don't return for detailed testing when their infant fails an initial hearing screening. And an estimated 1.5 million youth younger than 21 have hearing loss that may be improved with amplification.

Hearing loss leaves children vulnerable to other problems as well, according to the institute. Those additional problems include hampered social skills, delayed speech and language development, low self-esteem and strained relationships with family and peers. The study found no evidence of the use of any form of hearing assistance in the classroom other than placing children with hearing loss in the front row.

The study cited some technical reasons for not using hearing aids, including that the devices would not be helpful with high frequency hearing loss, low frequency hearing loss or hearing loss in one ear. Only 14 percent of parents said their child's hearing loss was too severe for hearing aids. Many parents surveyed in the study mentioned prohibitive costs, such as one parent who said: "I hate to deny his need of them if we can't afford them. We have a hard time paying bills, but yet we never seem to qualify for financial assistance because we make too much money."

The study, which found 32 percent of parents cite embarrassment or other social stigma as a reason their child does not use a hearing aid, raised several educational and public olicy questions as well. …

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