Professor and Scientific Director
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (United States)
Dr. Lisa Hunter is an audiologist by training, and a pediatric hearing researcher who collaborates with experts in speech-language development, psychology, neonatology, and neuroimaging. Her NIH-funded research investigates the effects of prematurity on hearing and development. She has a passion for addressing systemic effects of access to care and early intervention.
Early Detection of Hearing Loss and Language Delay in Infants Born Prematurely
In the United States, nearly 400,000 babies are “born too soon” every year, about 10% of all births. These babies are at much higher risk for hearing loss and speech-language delays. While newborn screening detects moderate and greater hearing loss, it can miss milder forms of hearing loss. Speech-language therapy is the most delayed of all therapies offered to babies born premature—often not until preschool. We can do better for both hearing loss detection and language intervention. Our research is breaking new ground in detection of all degrees of hearing loss and using advanced methods to predict speech-language problems earlier so that intervention can be provided as early as birth. We are studying how the brain is functioning in babies born before 32 weeks gestational age and following them until age 3 years to also assess effects of early intervention, home environments, and social risk.
By the end of this session, learners will be able to:
- 1. Explain why newborn hearing screening does not detect all hearing loss.
- 2. List three reasons that premature babies are at greater risk for hearing loss.
- 3. Discuss ways that speech and language development can be supported from birth onward.