Cochlear implants in children

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies

We've been fortunate in that none of our three children has shown any difficulties in hearing. I don't know how long this can last if our 13-year old plays jacks up the volume in playing rifts on his new electric guitar, but Loren has always been considerate and I'm sure will continue to be. However, some children are not this lucky. A study published in the June issue of Ear and Hearing describes the plight of children who are born deaf. The journal reported that the earlier deaf infants or children receive a cochlear implant, the better their speech by the time they are three and a half years old.

Cochlear implants sense sound and send electrical signals to an internal component that stimulates the hearing nerves in the inner ear. Researchers tested the spoken language skills of 76 children, all 42 months of age, who had had cochlear implants. In the study, spoken language tests were compared to the length of time each child had had his or her cochlear implant. The investigators reported there was an association between longer implant time and richer vocabulary, longer, more complex sentences, and more frequent use of irregular words. Many of the children who received cochlear implants at the youngest ages had nearly the same spoken language skills as children with normal hearing, she noted.

This may be important information if you suspect your baby has a severe hearing loss. It could give you and your child a head start in correcting potential problems due to deafness. On the other hand, if you have older children who insist on increasing the volume on their electric guitars, you may wish for the opposite of a cochlear implant!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.