"We believe that the early superiority in the reading skills of the children who were screened may have enabled them to read more demanding material more frequently than their peers with later confirmed hearing difficulties," said lead researcher Colin Kennedy, professor at the University of Southampton in Britain.

Follow up assessments when the children were aged eight showed those who were screened at birth had better language skills than those children who were not screened.

This new study has now shown that longer term benefits of early detection also occur following assessments at aged 17.

"Screening all babies for hearing impairment at birth enables families to have the information they need to support their baby's development, leads to benefits of practical importance at primary school and now, secondary school and further education," Kennedy added.
The study assessed the teenagers' level of reading development and compared them to deaf teenagers who were not screened as newborn babies.

The gap between the early and late confirmed groups had doubled between the two assessments.

The study was published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

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