Effect of age at intervention on language outcomes at age 5 years for children with mild hearing loss in the LOCHI study

Dr Teresa YC Ching1, Dr Harvey Dillon, Mr Mark Seeto, Ms Patricia Van Buynder, Ms Laura Button, Ms Vivienne Marnane (National Acoustic Laboratories, Sydney, Australia)

Background: Universal newborn hearing screening has been implemented to detect permanent childhood hearing loss early, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes through early treatment. Despite previous literature showing an association between early treatment and superior language outcomes, there is disagreement between studies on the size of this benefit, and in some cases whether it is significantly different from zero. No study of sufficient size had determined reliably whether the effect varies with degree of hearing loss.

Aim: In a population-based prospective study, the Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study, we aimed to explore how intervention timing influences 5-year language in children with hearing loss. This paper describes the effect of age at intervention on outcomes of children with mild hearing loss.

Method: We collected demographic information and measured language outcomes of the LOCHI cohort at several intervals after detection. The outcomes measured at 5 years were analysed using multiple regression analyses. The effect of age at intervention was quantified, after allowing for the effects of nonverbal IQ, severity of hearing loss, sex, birthweight, maternal education, socio-economic status, and communication mode.

Results: The benefit of early intervention for language development increased as hearing loss increased. Factors influencing outcomes will be discussed.

Conclusion: The evidence arising from the LOCHI study can be used to guide management of children with different degrees of hearing loss.


Dr Teresa Y.C. Ching, PhD is Head of Communication Sciences Department and Pediatric Hearing Impairment research at the National Acoustic Laboratories in Australia. Her current research focuses on investigating the efficacy of early hearing aid fitting or cochlear implantation for populations of children with hearing loss and determining factors influencing outcomes; evaluation of sound detection and discrimination in infants with hearing loss or auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder using cortical measurements and parental reports; and prescription of hearing aids and electric-acoustic stimulation (bimodal fitting) for children and adults. Teresa is leading longitudinal, population-based studies that examine the outcomes of children with bilateral or unilateral hearing loss. She has published more than 120 peer-reviewed manuscripts. She is regularly invited to deliver keynote presentations at international conferences. She serves on the editorial boards of international journals.

Her research interest and experience encompass many aspects of hearing rehabilitation for children and adults with hearing loss: bimodal hearing, electric-acoustic stimulation, cochlear implantation candidacy and outcomes, amplification requirements, speech intelligibility, psychoacoustic abilities, and evaluation methods for children. Her current research focuses on evaluating the efficacy of early intervention for improving outcomes of children with bilateral or unilateral hearing loss.