Purpose of review: Children with congenital hearing loss are being identified earlier, leading to earlier intervention. Current US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criteria states a child must be 12 months or older for cochlear implantation. The purpose of this article is to review recent publications regarding the benefits of implanting infants under 12 months of age. Topics include: safety and efficacy of surgery, speech and language acquisition outcomes, audiologic components, and limitations.
Recent findings: Since the early 1990s, the candidacy criteria evolved drastically. However, the FDA criteria for cochlear implantation in children has remained at 12 months of age or older since 2000. Recent research indicates implanting below 12 months of age a safe and effective procedure. Speech and language outcomes showed better speech and language advantages. In addition, infants implanted earlier showed normal auditory skills as early as 3 months post cochlear implant activation. This article will also address recent findings on the limitations of earlier implantation.
Summary: Recent research demonstrates positive outcomes in children implanted under 12 months of age. Developing research on earlier implantation could lead to a change in the current FDA criteria allowing infants to reach their speech and hearing potential faster.