Early implant means better language for cochlear patients

Research

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© Bjorn Knetsch

Children implanted with cochlear implant by 12 months of age demonstrate better language development compared with those who receive their cochlear implant between 13 and 24 months, according to Australian research. The multi-partner study reviewed the communications development of 35 children who were implanted between six and 12 months of age and 85 children implanted between 13 and 24 months of age. Audiological assessments included unaided and aided audiograms, auditory brainstem response, auditory steady state response and otoacoustic emissions.

They found that children who received their cochlear implant by 12 months of age demonstrated language growth rates equivalent to their normally hearing peers and achieved age appropriate receptive language scores three years postimplant. The children who received their cochlear implant between 13 and 24 months demonstrated a significant language delay at 3 years postimplant.

“Speech production development followed a similar pattern to that of normal-hearing children, although was delayed, for both groups of children. Mean open-set speech perception scores were comparable with previous reports for children and adults who use cochlear implants,” say the authors.

“This supports the provision of a cochlear implant within the first year of life to enhance the likelihood that a child with severe-to-profound hearing impairment will commence elementary school with age-appropriate language skills,” say the researchers.

Source: Otol Neurotol, Feb 24, 2013

R.S.