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Cochlear Implants for Kids: Earlier Surgery Works Best

Study Identifies a Window of Opportunity for Cochlear Implants in Deaf Children

Cochlear Implant Just the First Step

There is a lot of work involved in the evaluation process, and after implantation as well, experts tell WebMD.

“If you put an implant on a child, you have to be sure to have the family on board with doing everything that needs to be done,” says Anne Oyler, an audiologist and the associate director of Audiology Professional Practice at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Rockville, Md. This includes teaching the child to develop listening skills and interacting with the child.

“You can’t just put a cochlear implant on a child and be done with it,” she says. “There is still work involved with helping to develop speaking skills,” Oyler tells WebMD. “In and of itself, a cochlear implant is not a cure.”

Hearing aids also play a role in helping children with hearing loss who go on to get cochlear implants. “Even if child can’t hear and understand speech with a hearing aid, there is some stimulation and that is very important for later on,” she says.

Parents need to make sure newborns get a hearing screen within the first month of their life. “If they don’t pass, they need to follow up, and if they do have hearing loss, get started with hearing aids, and if the hearing aid is not helping, go on to cochlear implants,” says cochlear implant surgeon Mark Wiet, MD, head of the section of otology, neurotology, and skull base surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

There is always a hearing aid trial before implants, he says.

That said, “cochlear implants are a modern miracle. Kids that are implanted can be mainstreamed in school, so it can change the course of their life,” he says.

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