It is well established that permanent childhood hearing impairment (PCHI) has a detrimental impact on speech and language development. The past two decades have seen the gradual introduction of universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) programmes coupled with early intervention programmes. We review studies that have capitalised on the advent of newborn hearing screening to assess the impact of early identification of PCHI on language outcomes in deaf children. The research supports the conclusion that, in children with PCHI, newborn hearing screening and early identification lead to beneficial effects on language development, with the most consistent evidence provided for links between early identification of PCHI and positive language outcomes. Future research needs to encompass a wider range of outcomes and to assess the impact of UNHS in adolescents and young adults.
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