I recently came across the NHS (UK) ‘Cochlear implants for children and adults with severe to profound deafness’(1). While the full document is interesting because it covers the recommendations for Cochlear implantation for both children adults and includes research into outcomes, what I found most interesting was the statistics for the prevelance of hearing loss in children.
According to research, of around 700,000 births(2) each year, 390 children in Wales and England are born deaf. (0.05% of births). But even children who test as hearing at birth are still at risk of being deaf later in life - one child in every 1,000 has a severe (or greater) deafness by the age of three and this rises to two children in every 1,000 by the age of 16. (0.2% of children).
Interestingly, 90% of children born deaf have two hearing parents. That means only about 40 children who are born deaf come from deaf families and most of these will benefit from their parents’ Deaf culture. 40% of children born deaf have additional disabilities, which will probably require lifelong intervention, so there are 210 children who have no problem other than deafness and it’s these children and their hearing parents for whom deafness is perceived as a considerable disadvantage. Their parents have no knowledge or experience of deafness. They see deafness as a significant impact on their child’s quality of life; it poses language and speech problems which will affect education and job opportunities.
Many parents are opting for cochlear implants for their children believing this will give them the best opportunity in life for linguistic development relieving or eliminating the impact poor language has on life prospects. In the 12 months ending March 2007 at least 770 children in Wales and England received either one or bi-lateral Cochlear implants. The studies indicated that children with a cochlear implant had an improved quality of life or their parents perceived they had a better quality of life. They scored better in speech perception and background noise than children who simply had hearing aids. In addition the research indicated that children with a cochlear implant were more likely to be educated in mainstream schools and achieve a higher academic outcome than children who did not receive a cochlear implant.
This study is due for review in 2011 when the findings will be assessed and updated.
(1) Cochlear implants for children and adults with severe to profound deafnesshttp://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/TA166Guidancev2.pdf .
(2) How many babies are born in the UK each year? http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090908024155AA5kutI