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Women With Hearing Loss May Likely Give Birth To Preterm Or Low-Birth-Weight Babies

First Posted: Sep 28, 2016 03:48 AM EDT
Mother with baby in an incubator
Babies born to women with hearing loss were significantly more likely to be premature and have low birth weight, according to a new study. PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay CC0

Expectant mothers spend months praying that their babies come out healthy and normal. However, a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that pregnant women with hearing loss may be at risk of giving birth to babies having low-birth-weight or premature babies.

Medical News Today wrote that lead investigator Dr. Monika Mitra, Ph.D., of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, and colleagues observed that several individuals with hearing loss also have other health issues. Experts think that because of their disability, these people have reduced beneficial exposure to media, healthcare messages or reminders, health communication and learning opportunities.

To add to that, Dr. Mitra and her team said that healthcare providers do not often receive training on how to properly communicate with deaf patients, which may also affect the health experts' ability to provide optimal care. It was also found that among expectant mothers, women with hearing disability are not as satisfied with their prenatal care and usually do prenatal visits less than those women without hearing loss.

"There have not yet been any population-based studies about pregnancy experiences and outcomes among women with hearing loss, although a recent study of deaf women's experiences with prenatal care found they were less satisfied with their care and were more likely to have fewer prenatal visits than hearing women," explained Dr. Mithra. "We, therefore, set out to investigate birth outcomes among women with hearing loss," she added.

For the study, the researchers studied data from the 2008-2011 Nationwide Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). Among the nearly 18 million deliveries that were catered over the period of 4 years, the research team found about 10,500 that happened among young women with hearing disability. Birth results showed preterm birth and low birth weight. These were compared among women with and without hearing loss, and the researchers also took into account the women's health insurance coverage, as well as any other medical conditions present, news-medical.net reported.

According to News Wise, about one percent of people in the U.S. between the ages 18 to 44 years old are suffering from hearing disability of different types, severity, pattern, and age of onset. It was also found that many individuals who are deaf and have a hard time hearing experience significant health issues and communication and language barriers. This is usually accompanied by a general lack of trust of the medical community, which can result in social and healthcare isolation for many. Those who are not suffering from deafness had a lesser risk of giving birth to babies with low-birth-weight and preemies. It was also found that women with hearing loss are usually publicly insured and may also be qualified for both Medicare and Social Security Disability Insurance because of their hearing disability, especially if the disability prevented them from seeking employment.

It is also important to note that the study also revealed that Medicare and Medicaid were the most common payers for delivery hospitalizations among women with hearing loss, while private insurance was most common among women without hearing loss.  About one in seven women with hearing loss's births were paid for by Medicare, which showed a significantly higher number than the Medicare coverage for women without hearing loss. It was also revealed in the study that deaf women were two times more likely to have one or more coexisting health condition and were also more likely to be admitted to urban teaching hospitals.

Nearly one in seven women with hearing loss had their births paid for by Medicare, which was significantly higher than Medicare coverage for women without hearing loss (13.3% versus 0.6%). Women with hearing loss were almost two times more likely to have one or more coexisting health issues and were also more likely to be admitted to urban teaching hospitals.

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