How a new doll is trying to address a common health problem

How a new doll is trying to address a common health problem

A well-known toy company is kicking off the decade by announcing a new doll born with hearing loss, a condition that affects 48 million Americans, according to the Center for Hearing and Communication.

Joss Kendrick, the latest addition to Mattel’s lineup of characters designed to teach kids life lessons and foster confidence, is a competitive surfer and cheerleader. She comes sporting a bathing suit, sweatshirt and shorts — and a removable hearing aid.

“The more children and families are exposed to the idea that hearing aids are normal and hearing loss is common, the easier it will be for kids to wear their hearing aids and get the help they need,” says Dr. Jonathan Sherman, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “So I was really excited to see this doll.”

Dr. Sherman says that hearing loss, including one-sided (which can be hard for parents to identify), can affect school performance. So parents who suspect something is wrong at school might want to consider a hearing test.

“Kids who use hearing aids (and parents of kids who use them) generally recognize that they are analogous to glasses,” he says. “I often joke with patients that I would not be a very good surgeon if I didn’t wear my glasses, just like they may not be their best in school without hearing aids. It can be hard for parents and patients with new diagnoses of hearing loss to make that simple connection.”

“Treating the hearing loss has been shown to make a real difference in achievement,” he says.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.