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25-03-2013 | Paediatrics | Article

Sensitive parenting benefits children with cochlear implants


Free abstract

medwireNews: Children with cochlear implants have better language development if their mothers interact with them more sensitively, almost "catching up" with their normal-hearing peers, a study shows.

Lead researcher Alexander Quittner (University of Miami, Florida, USA) said in a press statement: "The findings indicate that pediatric cochlear implant programs should offer parent training that facilitates a more positive parent-child relationship and fosters the child's development of autonomy and positive regard."

The study examined the effects of observed maternal sensitivity (MS), cognitive stimulation (CS), and linguistic stimulation (LS) on the development of oral language. A group of 188 deaf children waiting to receive cochlear implants were enrolled in the study, with 97 normal-hearing children acting as controls.

Three measures of oral language were used to assess language development at baseline (before implantation) and over 4 years after implantation.

Parent-child interactions were observed and videotaped during three tasks: free play; problem solving, in which the child was given two puzzles to complete; and the "art gallery" task, in which the parent and child were given several posters to look at and discuss. These interactions were then coded using three scales (reliability ranging from 0.78 to 0.84) measuring MS, CS, and LS.

The three parenting behaviors accounted for 11% of the variance in language development between children with cochlear implants and those with normal hearing.

MS and CS were found to be predictive for language growth after adjusting for confounders including family demographics and age at implantation. LS was only predictive when accompanied by high MS.

At 48 months post-implantation, children of parents with high MS had a 1.3-year language delay (defined as the difference between chronological age and language age), whereas children of parents with low MS had a 2.7-year delay.

The magnitude of the effects of MS on language development was similar to that seen with age at implantation, which is known to have an important influence on language outcomes.

Writing in The Journal of Pediatrics, the authors suggest that "parenting behaviors are a critical target for intervention to attain optimal language outcomes."

They conclude: "Cochlear implant programs, which typically provide rehabilitation focused on speech and language training, would likely see improved outcomes by incorporating MS training into their programs."

By Afsaneh Gray, medwireNews Reporter

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