have programs for children who are deaf or hard of
hearing--to identify children who may benefit from
cochlear implants, as well as provide further support to the
service," Dr. Chee says.
or both ears, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. Nine out of 10 babies born with hearing loss
are born to hearing parents.
"That number has gone down with the universal newborn
tified at 3, 4, and even 5 years old."
implants can be performed--usually 5 or 6 years old--because
the brain can only go so long without any aural stimulation, Dr.
awareness as a result of the implant, but it would not be mean-
ingful enough to have normal speech recognition."
they will be exposed to sounds during an optimal period to
develop speech and language skills. In fact, a growing body
of research has shown that when children receive a cochlear
implant followed by intensive therapy before 18 months of
age, they are better able to hear, comprehend sound and
they are older, according to the National Institute on
Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
Annabella--benefit from the ability to have directionality of
sound, improved hearing quality, and improvement in distin-
guishing sounds in noisy environments, says Dr. Kwong.
Bilateral cochlear implants are performed sequentially, ideal-
to handle both signals if the surgeries are performed closer
not a good fit for everyone. Individuals whose hearing
loss, which results from problems with the ear canal, ear-
drum, or middle ear and its ossicles, would not be candidates
for cochlear implants, for example. The amount of work
needed afterward by the child and family also requires com-
mitment and a strong support system to be in place. The
Robert Wood Johnson Pediatric Cochlear Implant Team
conducts an intensive process to determine which individuals
would be most appropriate and reap the largest benefit from
the team can set realistic expectations, he says. For exam-
ple, speaking fluently following the surgery may be possible
for some children but not all, and many factors--physical
and otherwise--can affect the success of cochlear implants
for each child. As a result, Dr. Kwong says, the team devel-
ops an individualized plan and goals and shares them with
the family so that everyone is on the same page with regard
not only to the possibilities for their child, but also to the
work needed to help the child make the most of the implant.
sorineural hearing loss, the team hopes to add to the
research being conducted on this technology. They have
proposed additional research with the Institute for the
Study of Child Development to explore such issues related
to pediatric cochlear implants as the development of hear-
ing and/or speech and a comparison of outcomes based on
the different ages at which a child has the procedure, says
line--they're developing some language, but are very hard
of hearing, even with hearing aids--or those whose hearing
loss might progress to the point they might benefit from
cochlear implants, to be sure they don't just fall through the
cracks. With the advent of universal hearing screening,
there should be no reason for a child to have profound
hearing loss and not at least be offered a chance for hear-
ing," he says.