There’s good news for parents who have a child born with significant hearing loss. Advances in technology are making it possible to address profound hearing loss in children as young as 12 months of age.
Approximately one of every 1,000 newborns in the United States-about 33 babies per day-is born profoundly deaf.
Fortunately, there are treatment alternatives. For example, cochlear implants are small, complex, implantable electronic devices that restore hearing by bypassing the damaged parts of the ear to directly stimulate the auditory nerve, and may be beneficial to those who cannot hear or understand speech well with a hearing aid.
Potential advantages of the cochlear implant include better distance hearing, comfortable loudness growth, and clearer, more understandable speech.
Experts say people with cochlear implants can hold normal conversations, hear in noisy environments such as restaurants, use the telephone, work, participate in sports, attend school, and even play musical instruments.
Early screening and implementation of a hearing device, such as a cochlear implant, have medical, financial and social benefits. “Cochlear implants, coupled with auditory therapy, can help young children more quickly acquire the speech, language and social skills needed to successfully mainstream into regular classrooms with their normal-hearing peers,” said Patricia Trautwein, Au.D., director of auditory education and training for Advanced Bionics.
Nearly half of all cochlear implant recipients are children. Children benefit most from a cochlear implant when their hearing loss is detected in its beginning stages and they receive early intervention and treatment.
Adult candidates for a cochlear implant are most often those who are post-lingually deaf in both ears. These individuals typically receive limited benefit from hearing aids.