A new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that women with hearing loss are more likely to deliver babies prematurely or with lower birth weights.

According to a 2014 National Health Review survey, nearly 5% of women aged 18-39 report difficulty hearing without the use of assistive devices like hearing aids.

It’s important to note, however, that it’s the healthcare circumstances surrounding women with hearing loss – not hearing loss itself – that leads to low birth weights and preterm births.

Researchers at Brandeis University conducted a survey of both deaf and healthy hearing pregnant women, and found that women with hearing loss reported:

  • Fewer prenatal visits
  • Lower levels of satisfaction with their healthcare

Factors that contribute to premature birth

The study reveals several factors that help explain why women with hearing loss experience higher rates of both preterm birth and low birth weights:

  1. Early-onset hearing loss often correlates with speech and learning deficits
  2. Lower socio-economic status
  3. Coexisting health issues
  4. Inability to effectively communicate with healthcare providers

Researchers also stress the surprising differences in health insurance between women with normal hearing and women with hearing loss. Women without hearing loss are more likely to have private insurance, while women with hearing loss often rely on Medicare and Medicaid for prenatal care.

At REM Audiology, we hope these findings will help healthcare providers better understand the factors that lead to preterm birth and low birth weights for babies born to mothers with hearing loss, and lead to improved maternal healthcare programs.

If you have untreated hearing loss, contact REM Audiology in Philadelphia, PA, and New Jersey today to start your hearing health journey.