Language and reading outcomes in fourth-grade children with mild hearing loss compared to age-matched hearing peers

Elizabeth A. Walker, Caitlin Sapp, Margaret Dallapiazza, Meredith Spratford, Ryan W. McCreery, Jacob J. Oleson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose: There is ambiguity in the clinical and research communities regarding whether children with mild bilateral hearing loss (MBHL) are at risk for delays. The goal of the current article is to expand the evidence base surrounding outcomes for the current generation of children with MBHL. Method: Using independent-samples t tests, we compared children with MBHL to same-age peers with normal hearing (NH) on measures of vocabulary, morphological awareness, listening comprehension, and reading. We completed regression analyses to explore the foundational linguistic skills that influenced reading abilities in both groups. For the children with MBHL, we examined whether hearing aid (HA) dosage was associated with individual differences in language scores. Results: Group comparisons indicated that children with NH significantly outperformed children with MBHL on tests of morphological awareness and listening comprehension. There were no differences in vocabulary size or reading achievement; however, children with MBHL displayed significant differences in the factors that accounted for variability in reading scores compared to children with NH. HA dosage was significantly associated with variation in listening comprehension scores, but not vocabulary, reading, or morphological awareness. Conclusions: The current results provide evidence that children with MBHL are at risk for persistent language deficits by 4th grade, particularly in aspects of language that involve form. Reading skills in children with MBHL appear to be commensurate with same-age hearing peers. Consistent use of well-fit HAs supports listening comprehension, although the amount of benefit from HAs may be reduced for children with higher unaided hearing levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
JournalLanguage, speech, and hearing services in schools
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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