Deafness and Brain Development: New Research Shows Deaf Brain Processes Touch Differently

People who are born deaf process the sense of touch differently than
people who are born with normal hearing, according to new research. The
finding reveals how the early loss of a sense — in this case hearing —
affects brain development.


Cord Blood Stem Cells Restore Toddler's Hearing

virus infection Stephanie Connor acquired during pregnancy put her
unborn daughter at significant risk for brain damage and lifelong
hearing loss. “It was traumatic,” said Connor, of LaBelle, Fl, after learning about her daughter’s condition. “It was like mourning the loss of a child.”

At age 1, baby Madeleine was completely deaf in her right ear and her
hearing was severely lost in the left, said Connor. While a hearing aid
helped to amplify some sounds for Madeleine, it would never fully repair
the damage in her ear. But a simple experimental procedure that Connor
enrolled in for Madeleine may have restored her hearing and reversed her

In January 2012, Madeleine, 2, became the first
child to undergo an experimental hearing loss treatment through an
FDA-approved trial at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center that infused
stem cells from her own banked cord blood into her damaged inner ear.

For the first time, doctors are experimenting with cord blood stem
cells to regenerate hearing in children who have suffered hearing loss.
This yearlong study will follow 10 children, including Madeleine, ages 6
weeks to 18 months. 


Hearing loss an invisible, and widely uninsured problem

If you lose a leg, insurance will likely cover
the cost of your prosthesis. If you lose your arm, it’s the same. Even
if you lose your ability to perform sexually, more than likely your
Viagra is covered. But if you start to lose your hearing, far too often
you are on your own.

If hearing loss were officially considered
a disability, it would rank as the largest disability class in the
country. Some 37 million people suffer from hearing loss, according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that number will
only grow as the population ages.

Yet most private medical
insurance doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids. The Affordable Care
Act expanded coverage to include newborn hearing screenings when it
passed in 2010, but that was the single preventive-care expansion
related to hearing problems. It would take an actual act of Congress to
change it further. When private insurance does pay, it typically covers
the cost of an exam to assess hearing loss, and that’s about it.

Link: loss an 'invisible,' and widely uninsured, problem

Early Hearing and Detection Pediatric Audiology Link to Service EHDI PALS Survey

The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
(NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is accepting
comments regarding a new survey of audiologists and audiology

CDC is requesting OMB approval
to collect audiology facility information from audiologists or facility
managers over a one-year period. The survey will allow CDC-EHDI team
and state EHDI programs to compile a systematic, quantifiable
distribution of audiology facilities and the capacity of each facility
to provide services for children age 5 and younger. The data collected
will also allow the CDC-EHDI team to analyze facility distribution data
to improve technical assistance to State EHDI programs.

pass this information along and submit your comments regarding the
survey to Kimberly S. Lane, at 1600 Clifton Road, MS D74, Atlanta, GA
30333 or send an email to


Studies with Deaf Children may Help Decode Dyslexia

Nittrouer said she began to suspect the role hearing might play in
dyslexia after nearly a decade-long study involving children who were
born deaf or with profound hearing loss. “We began following this group
of over a hundred children, basically, since they were infants,”
Nittrouer said. All the children in the study got cochlear implants, which use microphones mounted just behind their ears, to capture and feed sound waves to nerves near the brain.

Through consistent testing, researchers found that the implants made a
remarkable difference in terms of childrens’ ability to hear, but
they’ve raised some intriguing questions as well. “Cochlear implants have been able to help children who are deaf
basically function as hearing children do,” said Nittrouer. “However,
once you begin to scratch the surface, you often find that children who
have cochlear implants function similarly to how children who have
dyslexia function.”

Nittrouer says that’s important because it points to the role of hearing in dyslexia


The July edition of Probes and Tips is now available: Improve Probe Fit

The July Edition of Probes and Tips is now available:

Improve Probe Fit

This edition includes such items as:

  • Follow the steps below to achieve a good probe fit that will allow you to administer a fast and accurate otoacoustic emissions (OAE) hearing screening test: Learn more about the steps.
  • Probe of the month: Are
    you able to achieve a good probe fit so that the probe stays securely
    in the child’s ear canal during screening?  If you have questions or
    comments, submit them to
    us at: 


Scientists Invent Mind Reading System That Lets You Type With Your Brain

Something of interest, not really related necessarily to hearing loss,
but may still impact us in ways we can not yet understand.

Researchers have invented a mind-reading system that, for the first time in history, allows any person to type
words and phrases letter by letter, just by thinking. It all occurs in
real time, without moving a single muscle or uttering a single word. This is an amazing invention. Not only it will help anyone with serious
motor disabilities, but it could potentially affect all of us in an
amazing way.


Cochlear Implants: Navigating a Forest of Information, One Tree at a Time

Since 2003, when this popular resource was originally developed, the
forest of information on cochlear implants has continued to grow. The
“trees” within this document have been updated to reflect this growth.
Similar to the previous document, it is
designed for both families and professionals and includes information,
resources, and references on topics surrounding cochlear implants,
including information about the technology and manufacturers, the
process to obtain a cochlear implant, insurance, surgery, programming
the speech processor, and training the ear to listen. It also addresses
considerations specific to making the decision of obtaining a cochlear
implant as well as language and educational planning for children using
cochlear implants. To find a wealth of information and links to even
more information about children and cochlear implants, make Navigating a
Forest of Information your first stop at Gallaudet University’s Cochlear Implant Education Center.