In the past decade, rapid changes in technology, molecular medicine, and societal attitudes toward early identification of hearing impairment in infants have created a setting in which pediatric cochlear implantation is poised to play a substantial role in the management of pediatric hearing loss, particularly in the early management of congenital deafness. Pediatric cochlear implantation is now a well-established option for hearing-impaired children. The benefits of early implantation on the development of communication skills in children are especially striking and drive the current trend toward earlier implantation at the 1st year of life. Paralleling this evolution in technology and medical management have been rapid advances in our ability to identify genetic causes of deafness in children and, as a result, better identify infants that are excellent candidates for cochlear implantation. Also dramatically affecting the candidate population are new federal and state level mandates calling for universal newborn hearing screening. With the widespread implementation of such programs, a significant increase is anticipated in the number of infants identified at birth with handicapping hearing loss. A corresponding increase in the number of children and families opting for cochlear implantation can be expected. As a result of the intersection of these seemingly disparate technological, biomedical, and social factors, it is particularly timely to assess current opinions regarding pediatric cochlear implantation and to identify areas requiring intensive research and development to deliver optimized care to these children.
Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Correspondence to Daniel Choo, MD, Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45229–3039, USA; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org