Audiology researchers at Cincinnati Children’s are committed to developing novel treatment and technologies to better understand, identify and treat hearing loss and inner ear problems.

Newborn Screening and Diagnosis

Hearing loss in newborns is the second most common birth defect, and has a lifelong effect on a child’s development if not caught and treated early. Too many babies receive a diagnosis of hearing loss too late for treatment to be most effective. Studies in Audiology funded by the NIH are discovering and testing new technology (wideband acoustic tests) to more accurately diagnosis the type of hearing loss in infants so that treatment can be initiated earlier.

Our researchers, in collaboration with the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program are improving the newborn hearing screening system to help infants in poverty to get the help they need sooner and more effectively. Through these studies, we found that wideband acoustic tests are effective for detecting the type of hearing loss, and we have been able to improve follow-up for babies in WIC programs by 75%.

Vestibular and Balance Assessment

The inner ear is responsible for both hearing and balance sensation, thus many children who suffer from hearing disorders also have balance system problems that can delay motor milestones such as walking, running and hopping on one foot. Other children suffer from balance problems due to neurologic and developmental problems, or as a result of head injuries and concussions.

Studies in audiology are underway to better understand how to diagnose vestibular problems in children. Most available studies are in adults, thus it is crucial that we study how to modify and interpret tests for use in children.

A recently studied test, the Video Head Impulse Test (vHIT) has been shown to be a useful tool for measuring vestibular function in adults. Responses in children have not yet been reported, but our studies are showing reliable results in children as young as 4 years. This test provides a non-invasive, objective and rapid measure of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR).