For some reason, the cochlear implant guidelines for young children has always been behind the times. For a long time children with a profound hearing loss could be implanted at 1 year but a child with a severe hearing loss could not be implanted before age 2.
Don’t children who are 18 months old need to hear? Audiologists and ENT’s have always proposed earlier implantation to the FDA, but change takes time.
Early Intervention Matters
We know that babies have very plastic brains so we really want to have them implanted as early as possible. Waiting 6 or 9 or 12 months can make a big difference.
Current criteria recommends that the adults can be implanted with moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss. Children 2-17 years can be implanted with a severe to profound hearing loss and children 9-24 months can be implanted with a profound hearing loss.
Australia and several European countries implant children earlier than we do in the US. We need to work to change criteria so that as soon as we know that a child has a severe to profound hearing loss they can be implanted.
We need to change the criteria so that degree of hearing loss is not different for people of different ages. The cochlear implant companies and large cochlear implant centers need to do the necessary research and the FDA needs to be convinced that criteria needs to change. And, finally, insurance companies have to allow surgeries earlier.
Let’s get a move on everyone…