Cochlear Implants Aid Developmental Impairment

Cochlear implants may aid early developmental impairment in infants and children with significant hearing loss.

To better understand how treatment for deafness impacted developmental impairment, researchers examined cochlear implantation vs continued hearing aid use in pediatric populations.

Patients from Texas and California were grouped into 3 cohorts. Cohort 1 (n=138) included patients with normal cognition, adaptive behavior, and underwent cochlear implantation. Cohort 2 (n = 37) and cohort 3 (n=29) included patients with low cognition and low adaptive behavior. Patients in cohort 2 underwent cochlear implantation, and patients in cohort 3 used hearing aids.

Individuals in cohort 1 had faster gains in cognitive, adaptive function, language and auditory skills (.166 – .403, P.001) when compared with those in cohort 2. Individuals in cohort 3 had slower gains in these areas (-.119 – -.243, P .04). This cohort also had increased stress within the parent-child system.

“Cochlear implantation benefits children with deafness and developmental delays,” researchers concluded. “This finding has health policy implications not only for private insurers but also for large, statewide, publicly administered programs. Cognitive and adaptive skills should not be used as a ‘litmus test’ for pediatric cochlear implantation.”


—Leigh Precopio



Oghalai JS, Bortfeld H, Feldman HM, et al. Cochlear implants for deaf children with early developmental impairment. Pediatrics. 2022;149(6):e2021055459. doi:10.1542/peds.2021-055459


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