Children with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder Fitted with Hearing Aids Applying the American Academy of Audiology Pediatric Amplification Guideline: Current Practice and Outcomes
Background: Up to 15% of children with permanent hearing loss (HL) have auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD), which involves normal outer hair cell function and disordered afferent neural activity in the auditory nerve or brainstem. Given the varying presentations of ANSD in children, there is a need for more evidence-based research on appropriate clinical interventions for this population. Purpose: This study compared the speech production, speech perception, and language outcomes of children with ANSD, who are hard of hearing, to children with similar degrees of mild to-moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), all of whom were fitted with bilateral hearing aids (HAs) based on the American Academy of Audiology pediatric amplification guidelines. Research Design: Speech perception and communication outcomes data were gathered in a prospective accelerated longitudinal design, with entry into the study between six mo and seven yr of age. Three sites were involved in participant recruitment: Boys Town National Research Hospital, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Iowa. Study Sample: The sample consisted of 12 children with ANSD and 22 children with SNHL. The groups were matched based on better ear pure-tone average, better-ear aided speech intelligibility index, gender, maternal education level, and newborn hearing screening result (i.e., pass or refer). Data Collection and Analysis: Children and their families participated in an initial baseline visit, followed by visits twice a year for children ,2 yr of age and once a yr for children .2 yr of age. Paired-sample t-tests were used to compare children with ANSD to children with SNHL. Results: Paired t-tests indicated no significant differences between the ANSD and SNHL groups on language and articulation measures. Children with ANSD displayed functional speech perception skills in quiet. Although the number of participants was too small to conduct statistical analyses for speech perception testing, there appeared to be a trend in which the ANSD group performed more poorly in background noise with HAs, compared to the SNHL group. Conclusions: The American Academy of Audiology Pediatric Amplification Guidelines recommend that children with ANSD receive an HA trial if their behavioral thresholds are sufficiently high enough to impede speech perception at conversational levels. For children with ANSD in the mild-to severe HL range,the current results support this recommendation, as children with ANSD can achieve functional outcomes similar to peers with SNHL.
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