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Julia Sarant and her Melbourne University team have published their first paper looking at the language outcomes of children with cochlear implants.

The paper entitled “Bilateral Versus Unilateral Cochlear Implants in Children: A Study of Spoken Language Outcomes” concludes…

Children with bilateral CIs achieved significantly better vocabulary outcomes, and 8-year-old children with bilateral CIs had significantly better language outcomes than did children with unilateral CIs. These improvements were moderated by children’s ages at both first and second CIs. The outcomes were also significantly predicted by a number of factors related to parenting, child characteristics, and family background. Fifty-one percent of the variance in vocabulary outcomes and between 59 to 69% of the variance in language outcomes was predicted by the regression models.

In the paper the researchers show explicitly that having two ears to hear leads to better language outcomes and that these outcomes are achieved more quickly. They also note that there is a strong link between getting a second implant sooner rather than later and better language outcomes. In short, delay matters.

This paper, and the research that it is reporting on, backs up numerous other papers, anecdotes and common sense. Children born with profound hearing loss, who are already starting with a delay, need two cochlear implants to catch their hearing peers.

2ears2hear continues to call on the New Zealand Government to follow the lead of every other first world nation and provide two cochlear implants for children who have profound hearing loss.