Hearing Aid Fitting and Developmental Outcomes of Children Fit According to Either the Nal or Dsl Prescription: Fit-to-Target, Audibility, Speech and Language Abilities

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Objective: This study examined the influence of prescription on hearing aid (HA) fitting characteristics and 5-year developmental outcomes of children. Design: A randomised controlled trial implemented as part of a population-based study on Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI). Study sample: Two-hundred and thirty-two children that were fit according to either the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) or Desired Sensation Level (DSL) prescription. Results: Deviation from targets and root-mean-square error in HA fitting revealed no significant difference between fitting prescriptions. Aided audibility quantified by using the Speech Intelligibility Index (SII) model showed that DSL provided higher audibility than NAL at low and medium input levels but not at high input level. After allowing for hearing loss desensitisation, differences in audibility between prescription groups were significant only at low input level. The randomised trial of prescription that was implemented for 163 children revealed no significant between-group differences in speech production, perception, and language; but parent-rated functional performance was higher for the DSL than for the NAL group. Conclusions: Proximity to prescriptive targets was similar between fitting prescriptions. The randomised trial revealed differences in aided audibility at low input level between prescription groups, but no significant differences in speech and language abilities.