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January 17, 2003

Treat Deaf Children Early

From: Yahoo News - 17 Jan 2003

FRIDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthScoutNews) -- Early cochlear implants are critical for deaf children to develop neurological pathways needed for hearing response.

That's the conclusion of a study in a recent issue of Ear and Hearing.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Texas and Arizona State University, compared brain activity of children in response to sound. It included hearing children and deaf children who received cochlear implants at different ages.

The researchers found that hearing children have rapid development of neurological hearing pathways in response to sound at an early age. They found there can be similar development in deaf children with cochlear implants, but only if the children receive the implants before they're 42 months old.

In the deaf children who received cochlear implants between the ages of 42 months and 7 years, less than half of them showed a response similar to that found in hearing children. In deaf children who received a cochlear implant after age 7, virtually none developed a normal response.

The study says early exposure of the nervous system to sound stimulations seems critical to developing the neurological pathway necessary for hearing response. The researchers suggest parents of deaf children need to consider this information.

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