Cochlear Implants Linked to Cognitive Defects..........

Can Restoring Hearing Damage Your Child’s Learning Ability?

Children who have cochlear implants installed to restore their hearing may face cognitive delays when compared to children with normal hearing, according to a new study published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. Researchers from Indiana University found that children with these implants face problems with memory, controlled attention and conceptual learning.

The researchers compared 73 children who had a cochlear implant before age 7 to 78 children with normal hearing, and found the children with the implants at a two-to-five times higher risk of cognitive defects.

“Cochlear implants produce remarkable gains in spoken language and other neurocognitive skills, but there is a certain amount of learning and catch-up that needs to take place with children who have experienced a hearing loss prior to cochlear implantation," study author William G. Kronenberger, professor of clinical psychology in psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine, said in a statement. "So far, most of the interventions to help with this learning have focused on speech and language. Our findings show a need to identify and help some children in certain domains of executive functioning as well."Never Too Early for a Child's Hearing Test

A commentary on news that skipping newborn hearing tests can hurt children's development. Hearing tests for newborns are becoming more common, but not all states require them, even though the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the government's panel of independent health experts, recommended universal screening in 2008. But skipping newborn hearing tests does increase the risk that children with hearing loss will suffer developmental delays by age 5, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Newborns can't let anyone know if they are hearing or not, so newborn tests detect otoacoustic emissions—basically, sound that bounces off the cochlea in the baby's inner ear and is picked up by a small microphone. Another test, the auditory brainstem response test, picks up signals from the auditory nerve through electrodes attached to the baby's scalp. The tests are painless, but cost and time are an issue, as they are for all universal medical tests. An older method, called distraction testing, can't be done until a child is at least 6 months old. With that method, testers watch a child while making a noise to see if the child turns in the direction of the noise.

In the JAMA study, researchers in the Netherlands studied children as universal newborn hearing tests were phased in between 2002 and 2006. They analyzed the development of 150 children with permanent hearing loss, 80 of whom had undergone hearing tests as newborns, and 70 of whom were tested with distraction testing. The children with hearing loss that had been identified in newborn testing did better on motor skills and social development than the children tested later on. They used sign language less, and spoken words more. The researchers felt the children also had a better overall quality of life.

Earlier hearing tests do help children born with hearing loss. But the universal testing programs are run by the states, and state health programs are under huge budget pressures. So don't expect a big push for universal newborn hearing screening anytime soon.

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association tracks state laws on newborn hearing testing; it's a good place to start if you'd like to know about the status of hearing tests in your state. Ask your pediatrician if they're routine, and what the options are for getting your newborn tested if they're not.
Some Kids With Cochlear Implants Suffer Memory Problems. THURSDAY, May 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Deaf children with cochlear implants are at increased risk for developmental delays in memory and higher thinking, a new study finds.

A cochlear implant is an implanted device that helps provide a sense of sound to people who are deaf or have severe hearing loss, according to the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

This study included 73 deaf children who received cochlear implants before they were 7 years old and 78 children with normal hearing. All of the children in the study had average to above-average IQ scores.

Compared to children with normal hearing, those with the cochlear implants were two to five times more likely to have delays in memory, planning, attention and conceptual learning, processes collectively known as executive functioning.

But the Indiana University research team also discovered that earlier implantation of a cochlear device reduced that risk. Children who got the implants at an average age of 18 months had fewer delays in executive functioning than those who were implanted at an average age of 28 months.

The researchers also found that many deaf children develop average or better executive functioning skills after receiving a cochlear implant, according to the study published May 22 in the Journal of the American Medical Association Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery.

"Cochlear implants produce remarkable gains in spoken language and other neurocognitive skills, but there is a certain amount of learning and catch-up that needs to take place with children who have experienced a hearing loss prior to cochlear implantation," study author William Kronenberger, a professor of clinical psychology in psychiatry, said in a university news release.

"So far, most of the interventions to help with this learning have focused on speech and language. Our findings show a need to identify and help some children in certain domains of executive functioning as well," he added.

Study co-author David Pisoni, director of the university's Speech Research Laboratory, said the team now is looking for early signs of risk in children before they get implants.

"It will be beneficial to identify as early as possible which children might be at risk for poor outcomes, and we need to understand the variability in the outcome and what can be done about it," he added in the news release.

More information:
The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more about cochlear implants at this link - http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/05/22/some-kids-with-...

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