Influence of Hearing Loss on Child Behavioral and Home Experiences

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ObjectivesTo assess the influence of hearing loss on child behavioral diagnoses, and socioemotional and behavior status.MethodsWe analyzed US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) child data, years 2011 to 2015, for associations between reported hearing loss and relevant NHIS items.ResultsCompared with hearing children, NHIS respondents with a deaf child were more likely to report developmental delays (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 11.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.8, 32.4), attention-deficit disorder (AOR = 3.1; 95% CI = 2.5, 3.9), autism diagnoses (AOR = 2.9; 95% CI = 1.8, 4.9), and minor to severe socioemotional difficulties (AOR = 3.9; 95% CI = 3.2, 4.7). When asked if their child was well behaved, respondents were more likely to reply “somewhat true” or “not true” (AOR = 2.7; 95% CI = 2.2, 3.4).ConclusionsHearing loss increases likelihood of reporting child behavioral diagnoses, behavior issues, and socioemotional difficulties. Although etiology and professional misdiagnoses likely contribute to elevated prevalence, lack of attention toward language deprivation as a public health issue prevents any further epidemiological insights.Public Health ImplicationsDespite widespread use of cochlear implants, concerns about deaf children’s well-being remain significant. Language deprivation requires investigation and awareness as a social determinant of health.

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