Children with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss face communication challenges that influence language, psychosocial and scholastic performance. Clinical studies over the past 20 years have supported wider application of cochlear implants in children. The Childhood Development after Cochlear Implantation (CDaCI) study is the first longitudinal multicentre, national cohort study to evaluate systematically early cochlear implant (CI) outcomes in children. The objective of the study was to compare children who have undergone cochlear implantation, with similarly aged hearing peers across multiple domains, including oral language development, auditory performance, psychosocial and behavioural functioning, and quality of life. The CDaCI study is a multicentre national cohort study of CI children and normal hearing (NH) peers. Eligibility criteria include informed consent, age less than 5 years, pre- or post-lingually deaf, developmental criteria met, commitment to educate the child in English and bilateral cochlear implants. All children had a standardised baseline assessment that included demographics, hearing and medical history, communication history, language measures, cognitive tests, speech recognition, an audiological exam, psychosocial assessment including parent-child videotapes and parent reported quality of life. Follow-up visits are scheduled at six-month intervals and include a standardised assessment of the full battery of measures. Quality assurance activities were incorporated into the design of the study. A total of 188 CI children and 97 NH peers were enrolled between November 2002 and December 2004. The mean age, gender and race of the CI and NH children are comparable. With regard to parental demographics, the CI and NH children's families are statistically different. The parents of CI children are younger, and not as well educated, with 49% of CI parents reporting college graduation vs. 84% of the NH parents. The income of the CI parents is also lower than the NH parents. Assessments of cognition suggest that there may be baseline differences between the CI and NH children; however the scores were high enough to suggest language learning potential. The observed group differences identified these baseline characteristics as potential confounders which may require adjustment in analyses of outcomes. This longitudinal cohort study addresses questions related to high variability in language outcomes. Identifying sources of that variance requires research designs that: characterise potential predictors with accuracy, use samples that adequately power a study, and employ controls and approaches to analysis that limit bias and error. The CDaCI study was designed to generate a more complete picture of the interactive processes of language learning after implantation.
2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.