Two studies released this week affirm the benefits of cochlear implants for deaf children and confirm other research suggesting earlier implantation is more advantageous.
The first study concluded that children who receive cochlear implants were more likely to have difficulties in the early years of school compared with their normal-hearing peers. However, these children ultimately achieved comparable education and employment levels with normal-hearing people. The study examined 100 children who had received implants before age 6 and were followed for an average of 10.6 years. It was published Monday in the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
The second study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., found that deaf children younger than age 5 who received cochlear implants had greater improvement in language skills than would have been predicted from their pre-implantation language scores. The younger the child was at the time of the surgery, the better the outcomes in speech and language comprehension. Children with some residual hearing also fared better than those who had no hearing ability at any time of life.
Both studies up the ante on diagnosing profound hearing loss in young children as early as possible so that parents can make a decision on whether to seek cochlear implant surgery. One family's journey through diagnosis and implantation was chronicled last year in a story in the Los Angeles Times.
-- Shari Roan
Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times