Science Daily | March 2019 | Kids with cochlear implants since infancy more likely to speak, not sign
A US study from researchers at a Chicago hospital reports that deaf children who received cochlear implants (implanted electronic hearing device) before 12 months of age learn to more rapidly understand spoken language and are more likely to develop spoken language as their exclusive form of communication- this was true even for children with additional conditions often associated with language delay, such as significantly premature birth.
In their findings, which have been published in Otology and Neurotology, researchers also showed that implantation surgery and anesthesia were safe in young children, including infants (via Science Daily).
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Full reference: Hoff, S. et al | 2019 | Safety and Effectiveness of Cochlear Implantation of Young Children, Including Those With Complicating Conditions|Otology & Neurotology | Publish Ahead of Print MAR 2019 |DOI: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000002156
Objective: Determine safety and effectiveness of cochlear implantation of children under age 37 months, including below age 12 months. Study Design: Retrospective review. Setting:Tertiary care children’s medical center.Patients:219 children implanted before age 37 mos; 39 implanted below age 12 mos and 180 ages 12–36 mos. Mean age CI = 20.9 mos overall; 9.4 mos (5.9–11.8) and 23.4 mos (12.1–36.8) for the two age groups, respectively. All but two more than or equal to 12 mos (94.9%) received bilateral implants as did 70.5% of older group. Mean follow-up = 5.8 yrs; age last follow-up = 7.5 yrs, with no difference between groups.Interventions:Cochlear implantation.Main outcome measures:Surgical and anesthesia complications, measurable open-set speech discrimination, primary communication mode(s). Results: Few surgical complications occurred, with no difference by age group. No major anesthetic morbidity occurred, with no critical events requiring intervention in the younger group while 4 older children experienced desaturations or bradycardia/hypotension. Children implanted under 12 mos developed open-set earlier (3.3 yrs vs 4.3 yrs, p more than 0.001) and were more likely to develop oral-only communication (88.2% vs 48.8%, p more than or equal to 0.001). A significant decline in rate of oral-only communication was present if implanted over 24 months, especially when comparing children with and without additional conditions associated with language delay (8.3% and 35%, respectively).Conclusions:Implantation of children under 37 months of age can be done safely, including those below age 12 mos. Implantation below 12 mos is positively associated with earlier open-set ability and oral-only communication. Children implanted after age 24 months were much less likely to use oral communication exclusively, especially those with complex medical history or additional conditions associated with language delay.