The 1st point in the intervention process for the majority of children is the fitting of hearing devices. The objective of this review was to compile guidelines and recommendations for candidacy criteria for children with hearing loss.
Electronic databases (e.g., MEDLINE, Embase, and Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature) and websites were searched. Any document referring to children with hearing loss that discussed amplification guidelines or protocols was included.
Documents specific to implantable devices or addressing only remote microphone systems were excluded. One reviewer screened all potentially relevant documents, and a subset was screened by a 2nd reviewer. Guidelines/recommendations referring to pediatric amplification candidacy were extracted.
A total of 40 documents were included for data extraction. Studies were categorized according to hearing loss of any degree, with separate categories for documents providing specific criteria for mild bilateral, unilateral, and auditory neuropathy spectrum disorders. Guidelines ranged from generic statements about the need for amplification to criteria based on specific audiometric thresholds. In guidelines recommending audiometric cut-points, the majority considered > 25 dB HL as a criterion for consideration for amplification. Overall, guidelines for children with mild bilateral and unilateral loss remain more ambiguous, and there was some variation across the recommendations. Guidelines for auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder stressed the need to obtain results from behavioral audiometry before considering amplification.
Numerous organizations have established candidacy guidelines for pediatric amplification. Most guidelines specify criteria for amplification as audiometric threshold levels. There is considerable variation in the guidelines for mild bilateral and unilateral hearing loss with candidacy criteria ranging from 15 to 30 dB HL, and many guidelines recommend a case-by-case decision approach.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute