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March 29, 2005

More cochlear implants for young children

From: Washington Times - Washington,DC,USA - Mar 29, 2005

New York, NY, Mar. 29 (UPI) -- Some 662 U.S. hearing impaired children under the age of 12 months received cochlear implants last year, while 369 under age 5 underwent the surgery.

While cochlear implants were approved for use in adults in 1985, it wasn't until 2000 that the procedure for children as young as 12 months, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

As a result, more children are getting the implants at an earlier age when they learn language more easily.

Deaf children are also being identified at a much earlier age after a 1999 federal act funding hearing tests for newborns.

While hearing aids amplify sound, a cochlear implant uses electrical contacts in the cochlea, a part of the ear that turns sound waves into electrical impulses. A tiny computer worn on the ear takes sounds and converts them into digital signals, which are transmitted to the implant, which in turn stimulates the auditory nerve and sends the message to the brain.

A battery-powered electronic processor powers the system that requires surgery and costs about $60,000.

Copyright 2005 United Press International