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Study Examines SNHL Treatment Using Umbilical Cord Blood

Celebrating 35 years of Caring for Your Hearing

Meredy Hase tests a child, 1987  Kupperman and Hase work to license audiologists in Wisconsin, 1989


Hearing Loss UNDER Age 65

We used to think of hearing loss as something that only happened to our grandparents' generation. But you'd be surprised at how many people your age, and even younger, have a hearing problem.
According to a study recently published by the Better Hearing Institute, two-thirds of Americans with hearing loss are under the age of 65 and still in the work force. That includes one of every six "Baby Boomers" (ages 41 to 59) and one of every 14 "Generation X'ers" (age 29-40).

According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "Hearing loss is by no means an 'old person's disease' any longer. Each day, we see people of all ages come into our offices concerned they may have a hearing problem.

"There's even solid evidence to support the fact that for working Americans, hearing loss impacts their ability to make a living, up to $12,000 in lost income per year." (See related article)
Dr. Hase urges anyone who thinks they, or a loved one, may have a hearing loss to contact The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services without delay.

Auditory Deprivation

Auditory Deprivation refers to the fact that even though we "hear" with our ears, it's our brain that's the true organ of hearing.

When hearing loss is left untreated, the brain's ability to distinguish various sounds becomes less and less. Try to think of Auditory Deprivation as similar, in a sense, to muscles that atrophy when not used over a long period of time.

The reason Auditory Deprivation is important is that we have ample evidence proving how long people will wait before seeking help for a suspected hearing loss. Up to ten years, by some estimates.

In other words, the longer you wait to get help for your hearing loss, the less even the most advanced hearing instruments will be able to help you hear better. That's one more reason physicians recommend annual hearing checks as part of an overall health assessment.
The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services can perform hearing screenings that take only a few minutes. Concerned individuals are urged to contact them at the first signs of hearing loss, such as an inability to understand conversations in a crowded room or having to turn up the TV volume in order to hear.

Hearing & Income Loss

After years of research, there is new evidence that links hearing loss and loss of income. A study released by the Better Hearing Institute in Alexandria, VA, proves that untreated hearing loss may impact household income by as much as $12,000 per year.

The study also shows that hearing loss, which affects more than 28 million Americans, two thirds of whom are still in the work force, results in an annual loss of more than $100 billion in wages and worker productivity. The good news is people who find help for their hearing loss can regain up to 50% of that lost income.

According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "One of the misconceptions about hearing loss is that it's 'an old person's ailment'. But we know that hearing loss crosses all income lines and impacts people of all ages".

The new "Open Ear" Digital hearing instruments are especially designed to help Baby Boomers feel more comfortable about wearing hearing instruments.

Anyone interested in receiving a FREE Demonstration of Open Fit hearing technology are urged to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services.

Hearing Loss & the Family

For years, both researchers and hearing healthcare professionals have known much about the causes of hearing loss and how it affects the person who suffers from it.

But not until recently has attention been paid as to the devastating effects hearing loss has on family members and friends as well. This past year alone, several organizations have weighed in with their findings on this often overlooked medical problem that by current estimates, affects the lives and families of more than 30 million Americans.

For example, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a government agency whose task it is to research the lives of older Americans, released a study that confirms how often a person with hearing loss begins to feel isolated, eventually withdrawing from normal everyday activities and even from family and friends.

None of this is news, however, to Dr. Meredy Hase,  who says, "I realized just how much hearing loss also affected family members when we''d spend so much time counseling them when we''d fit their loved one with hearing instruments".

The benefits of better hearing were the subject of an NBC report that aired on an installment of the NBC Nightly News. In that report, the testimonials of several patients and their families provided evidence of how lives can be changed for the good, once the decision has been made to seek help for a hearing problem.

Those interviewed talked about how experiences such as watching TV or enjoying conversations with loved ones - things that were not possible with hearing loss - were once again part of the everyday enjoyment of life. Social activities like dining at restaurants of going to the movies were also among the range of family life experienced through better hearing.

Thanks to recent advances in technology more help is available than ever before for those whose lives are affected by hearing loss. If left untreated, hearing loss will almost always become worse over time, another reason Dr. Hase urges people to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services if a hearing loss is thought to exist.

More Hearing Healthcare News

CBR® (Cord Blood Registry®), the world's largest newborn stem cell company, has announced the publication of the results of the first clinical trial evaluating the use of autologous umbilical cord blood in children with acquired sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).

Co-principal investigators, Dr. James Baumgartner, MD and Pediatric Surgeon at Florida Hospital for Children, and Linda Baumgartner, Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist at Little HEARoes and Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, performed the study at the Florida Hospital for Children. The study was published in August 2018 by the Journal of Audiology & Otology, and institutional funding was provided solely by CBR, a California Cryobank Company.

As part of their commitment to help advance the science of newborn stem cells, CBR funded this phase 1 pilot study to assess the safety and preliminary efficacy of infusions of autologous umbilical cord blood in 11 children with acquired SNHL.

The study demonstrated that the cord blood infusions were safe, feasible, and well tolerated. In addition, 45% of participants showed improvements on Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) after their infusion.

"We found a statistically significant improvement in a measure of hearing based on one of the tests we performed," said Dr. Baumgartner. "This may be an indication that newborn stem cells help the ear repair itself in some children with hearing loss."

The study provides the first clinical evidence in humans to support this hypothesis. Dr. Baumgartner went on to say, "Although the exact mechanism of action is unknown, unique properties of the cord blood cellular components are believed to spur regeneration of the cilia (hair) and support cells within the cochlea."

SNHL is defined as hearing loss due to damage or dysfunction of the inner ear (as opposed to other structures of the ear). This can be a result of premature birth, infections, or exposure to noise or ototoxic drugs, resulting in irreversible damage to the fragile hair cells (cilia) in the inner ear.1

Although hearing aids or cochlear implants help to improve the ability to hear in individuals who have SNHL, these current interventions don't address the underlying cause. Currently, there is no cure for SNHL.

"A child's hearing ability affects the development of language skills and future academic and social development," says Linda Baumgartner. Today, approximately 15% of children have some form of low or high frequency hearing loss, and 40% of young adults with hearing loss experience a limit in daily functioning.2,3

"These preliminary findings build on results from previous animal model studies4that demonstrated human umbilical cord blood helps restore hearing function," says Dr. Jaime Shamonki, Chief Medical Officer of CBR and California Cryobank Life Sciences. She further noted, "Given the pilot nature of this study, participants were not paired with matched controls. However, given that SNHL does not improve with age or other therapies, ABR thresholds would not be expected to improve spontaneously in these children, regardless of concurrent use of hearing aids or speech therapy. We have good reason to believe that cord blood stem cells played a role in improving ABR in these children."

"We're excited to see what future research may hold," said Heather Brown, Vice President of Scientific & Medical Affairs for CBR. "We hope that newborn stem cell therapies will help broaden the options available for children with acquired hearing loss and other conditions. Expectant parents should be made aware of the one-time opportunity to preserve their child's cord blood, as it is a pristine source of hematopoietic stem cells as well as other potentially useful cells."

For the past 30 years, cord blood stem cells have been used to rebuild healthy blood and immune systems as part of a stem cell transplant. They've helped more than 40,000 patients worldwide with certain cancers, blood disorders, and immune disorders as part of a stem cell transplant, from both donated and privately banked cord blood.5 It's also being researched for its potential to be used for conditions like autism and cerebral palsy.

As an industry leader with over 800,000 stored samples, CBR has funded multiple FDA-regulated clinical trials for conditions that have no cure today. Through their Family Health Registry™ (FHR) community, client families are the first to know about clinical trials that could potentially help their immediate family. The 11 children who participated in this study are all CBR clients whose cord blood was preserved at the time of birth.

Article originally appeared on BioSpace.