Children and Hearing Implants The benefits of early cochlear implantation

Read more Last updated: September 2021
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Hearing healthcare professionals recommend a hearing implant if hearing aids do not lead to the desired outcome or cannot be used for medical reasons.

The sooner, the better

Children can benefit from a cochlear implant at any age, however, if they receive treatment before learning to speak, the benefits will be much higher. This is because the first hearing impressions are made at an age in which their brains are most receptive for sound and apt for speech development.

In many cases, speech and language development of children with profound hearing loss who have been fitted with cochlear implants is comparable to those of children with normal hearing.

The same is true for children who lost their hearing after birth: The shorter the duration of hearing loss, the more they are likely to benefit from a cochlear implant system. Today, cochlear implant surgery is considered a standard procedure and is often performed within the first year of life. This is due to constantly improved surgical techniques and implant technologies, supported by successful outcomes in early implanted children.

Very often, children implanted with a CI attend mainstream schools and are able to live a life that is hardly any different from that of children without hearing difficulties.

Little girl with CI

Why is early surgery for hearing implants crucial?

The first two years of life are when the brain is designed to develop certain processes such as hearing. After that time its capacity to do so is compromised.

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Hearing loss in children

One to two children out of 1000 are born with a detectable hearing loss, half of which have hereditary causes. We distinguish between:

  • congenital hearing loss: risk factors include hearing loss that runs in the family, premature birth, infectious diseases during pregnancy or syndromes like Trisomy 21. Thanks to (completely painless) newborn hearing screenings, hearing impairments can be detected early on so that adequate treatment can follow suit.
  • acquired hearing loss: this term is used when a hearing loss develops later in life. This form of hearing loss might occur due to infectious diseases, medication or otitis media (infection of the middle ear). Parents should pay attention to their child’s hearing. First signs of hearing loss in children can be found here.

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