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Mild and Unilateral Hearing Loss: Implications for Early Intervention

Holstrum, W. June PhD; Biernath, Krista MD; McKay, Sarah AuD, CCC-A; Ross, Danielle S. PhD, MSc

doi: 10.1097/01.IYC.0000357455.38816.b8

Newborn hearing screening has become a standard practice in most birthing hospitals in the United States. Historically, the primary target for the identification of hearing loss has been infants with permanent bilateral loss of moderate degree or greater (ie, >40 dB). However, research indicates that without early identification and intervention, children with mild bilateral hearing loss or unilateral hearing loss can have significant communication, academic, and behavioral difficulties (F. H. Bess, J. Dodd-Murphy, & R. A. Parker, 1998; R. Bovo et al., 1988). Communication between families and professionals is essential to develop intervention strategies that will optimize the outcome of such children. This article presents a brief review of the research and discusses issues related to mild bilateral hearing loss and unilateral hearing loss. Implications for early intervention services, including the importance of collaboration among professionals, are outlined. Suggestions for intervention activities are taken from professionals attending the 2005 National Workshop on Mild and Unilateral Hearing Loss, the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) 2007 position statement, and various early intervention Web sites.

McKing Consulting Corporation, Atlanta, Georgia (Dr Holstrum); National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia (Drs Biernath and Ross); Center for Childhood Communication, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Dr McKay).

Corresponding Author: W. June Holstrum, PhD, 214 Parkside Road, Lexington, SC 29072 (

Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Links to organizations outside of CDC are included for information only. CDC has no control over the information at these sites. Views and opinions of these organizations are not necessarily those of CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the US Public Health Service.

©2009Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.