Diagnosing deafness early could help teenagers’ development

December 9, 2010

Researchers from the University of Southampton are investigating whether deaf teenagers have better language skills if they are identified as deaf just after they are born.

The team has been studying the development of a group of children whose hearing impairment was detected at birth in a pilot screening program conducted in Southampton and London in the 1990s. Now those children are aged 13 to 18.

Scientists, funded by the Wellcome Trust, will investigate the children's level of development and compare them to deaf teenagers who were not screened as newborn babies. They will also compare them to 'hearing' teenagers from the same parts of the country.

A national, universal newborn screening program for deafness was introduced in the NHS following the publication of the team’s initial study in 1998. This new form of screening is now in place in every area of the UK.

Colin Kennedy, professor of neurology and paediatrics at the University and a consultant pediatric neurologist at Southampton General Hospital, is leading the study. He explains: "We tested the effect of screening all newborn babies for hearing problems at birth and found that it was an effective way of picking up hearing impairment early in the first year after birth. We also discovered that children exposed to this type of newborn screening had, on average, better language and reading abilities at age 8 years than those not exposed to newborn screening.

“As the group are now teenagers, we are going back to review their progress. This work suggests that screening all babies for at birth, so that families can have the information they need to support their baby’s development, does lead to benefits of practical importance at primary school, but only now can we find out what benefit this leads to in the teenage years.”

Reading, language, school attainment, behavior, quality of life, interpersonal relationship functioning, social understanding and views about their deafness and their education will all be investigated in the latest study.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

Three million Americans carry loaded handguns daily, study finds

October 19, 2017
An estimated 3 million adult American handgun owners carry a firearm loaded and on their person on a daily basis, and 9 million do so on a monthly basis, new research indicates. The vast majority cited protection as their ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.