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Assessment of Receptive and Expressive Language Skills Among Young Children With Prelingual Single-Sided Deafness Managed With Early Cochlear Implantation

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Importance: Pediatric single-sided deafness (SSD) can seriously affect development, causing impaired spatial hearing skills, speech-language delays, and academic underachievement. Early cochlear implantation likely improves hearing-related outcomes, but its association with language development remains unclear. Objective: To investigate whether early cochlear implantation is associated with language outcomes for children with prelingual SSD. Design, Setting, and Participants: The Cochlear Implant for Children and One Deaf Ear study was initiated in 2015 and recruited participants at 4 academic hospitals in Flanders, Belgium, through 2019. This cohort study included 3 groups of children aged 2 to 5 years: children with SSD and a cochlear implant, children with SSD without a cochlear implant, and a control group with normal hearing. Language and hearing skills were assessed 1 to 2 times per year until the age of 10 years. Study completion rates were high (82%). Data analysis was performed from October to December 2020. Exposure: Unilateral cochlear implant. Main Outcomes and Measures: Longitudinal vocabulary, grammar, and receptive language scores. The implanted group was hypothesized to outperform the nonimplanted group on all language tests. Results: During the recruitment period, 47 children with prelingual SSD without additional disabilities were identified at the participating hospitals. Fifteen of the 34 children with an intact auditory nerve received a cochlear implant (44%, convenience sample). Sixteen of the remaining children were enrolled in the SSD control group (50%). Data from 61 children (mean [SD] age at the time of enrollment, 2.08 [1.34] years; 26 girls [42%]) were included in the analysis: 15 children with SSD and a cochlear implant, 16 children with SSD without a cochlear implant, and 30 children with normal hearing. Children with SSD and a cochlear implant performed in line with their peers with normal hearing with regard to grammar. In contrast, children with SSD without a cochlear implant had worse grammar scores than the group with implants (-0.76; 95% CI, -0.31 to -1.21; Pā€‰=ā€‰.004) and the group with normal hearing (-0.53; 95% CI, -0.91 to -0.15; Pā€‰=ā€‰.02). The 3 groups had similar vocabulary and receptive language abilities. Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that early cochlear implantation is associated with normal grammar development in young children with prelingual SSD. Although further follow-up will reveal the long-term outcomes of the cochlear implant for other skills, the current results will help clinicians and policy makers identify the best treatment option for these children.
ISSN: 2574-3805
Issue: 8
Volume: 4