For children with permanent hearing loss, optimizing their auditory skills is most important. All children with hearing loss benefit from early intervention, which includes hearing instruments, assistive devices, and/or other sensory aids that are prescribed for the child’s specific auditory problem. When a hearing loss exists binaurally, a hearing instrument is provided for each ear. This is to help the infant or child achieve stereophonic reception of sound.
According to National Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) goals developed by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH, 2000), all children should be screened for hearing loss before 1 month, hearing loss should be confirmed by 3 months, and children with diagnosed hearing loss should enroll in early intervention programs as soon as possible.
It is important to remember that infants may be fit with amplification soon after the confirmation of hearing loss. Infants may begin to use hearing instruments as early as 2 to 4 months of age.
The cochlear implant has provided a means for receiving sound for some children with profound or total hearing loss who do not receive sufficient benefit from hearing instruments. Through a surgical procedure, a wire containing numerous electrodes is fed into the cochlea. A magnetic receiver is implanted in the mastoid bone just behind the ear. This couples to an externally-worn receiver/simulator that provides a signal to the electrode array in the cochlea. Infants age 12 months with profound hearing loss who have not made sufficient progress with conventional hearing instruments are considered candidates for cochlear implants. In some cases (as when meningitis is the cause of deafness), younger infants may be candidates for a cochlear implant.