Objectives: In order to understand the communicative abilities of hearing impaired children in noisy situations and their communication problems, this study was undertaken to examine speech recognition at different background noise levels, and to compare how context cues in noisy situations affect speech recognition. Methods: Thirty-four children with severe/profound hearing impairment were enrolled. Fifteen children had cochlear implants (CIs) and 19 used hearing aids (HAs).The Mandarin Speech Perception in Noise (SPIN) test was performed under two levels of background noise, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) 10 dB and SNR 0 dB (high and low levels, respectively). High predictive (HP) and low predictive (LP) sentences SPIN test scores were recorded to test the effect of context cues on speech recognition. Results: Performance was significantly better in children with CIs (SNR 10: mean, 49.44, standard deviation [SD], 13.90; SNR 0: mean, 31.95, SD, 15.72) than in children with HAs (SNR 10: mean, 33.33, SD, 9.72; SNR 0: mean, 19.52, SD, 6.67; P<0.05) in both noise backgrounds, but no significant interaction was found between devices and background noise level. Hearing-impaired children performed better at SNR 10 dB (mean, 40.44; SD, 14.12) than at SNR 0 dB (mean, 25.0; SD, 12.98), significantly (P< 0.001). Performance for HP sentences (mean, 38.6; SD, 12.66) was significantly (P<0.001) better than that for LP sentences (mean, 25.25; SD, 12.93). An interaction was found to between background noise level and contextual cues in sentences (F=8.47, P<0.01). Conclusion: The study shows that SNR conditions significantly influence speech recognition performance in children with severe/profound hearing impairment. Under better SNR listening situations, children have better speech recognition when listening to sentences with contextual cues. Children with CIs perform better than children with HAs at both noise levels.
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