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Infant Cooing And Babbling Associated With Hearing Ability

Update Date: Sep 24, 2014 08:42 AM EDT

Infant vocalizations are mainly motivated by infants' ability to hear their own babbling, according to a new study.

The study found that infants with profound hearing loss who received cochlear implants to help correct their hearing soon reached the vocalization levels of their hearing peers. 

"Hearing is a critical aspect of infants' motivation to make early sounds," said Mary Fagan, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders in the MU School of Health Professions, in the press release. "This study shows babies are interested in speech-like sounds and that they increase their babbling when they can hear."

Researchers studied the vocalizations of 27 hearing infants and 16 infants with profound hearing loss who were candidates for cochlear implants. They noted that infants with profound hearing loss vocalized significantly less than hearing infants. But when the infants with profound hearing loss received cochlear implants, the infants' vocalizations increased to the same levels as their hearing peers within four months of receiving the implants. 

"After the infants received their cochlear implants, the significant difference in overall vocalization quantity was no longer evident," Fagan said. "These findings support the importance of early hearing screenings and early cochlear implantation."

"Babies learn so much through sound in the first year of their lives," Fagan added in the press release. "We know learning from others is important to infants' development, but hearing allows infants to explore their own vocalizations and learn through their own capacity to produce sounds."

The study was published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.  

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