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Hearing Devices More Apt to Fail in Children Who Had Meningitis

THURSDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- For children who have an implanted cochlear device, rates for replacement due to device failure are low. However, children who have hearing loss caused by bacterial meningitis before a device was implanted appear to be at increased risk for it to fail, a new study finds.

A cochlear implant (CI) is a small device that helps provide a sense of sound to people who have severe hearing loss or are deaf, according to the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

In this study, Canadian researchers looked at the medical records of 738 children who received a total of 971 cochlear implant devices between 1990 and 2010. The children's median age when they first received a cochlear implant was 33 months.

During the 20-year study period, 34 of the children required reimplantation, a rate of about 3 percent. The average time to device failure was 61 months. Seven of the 34 children had meningitis before they received their first cochlear implant.

After reimplantation, most of the children maintained or improved their best speech performance before the failure of the initial device, the researchers found.

"In conclusion, we found a very low rate of CI failure in a pediatric implant series and several related factors that may account for this low rate," wrote Dr. Antoine Eskander, of the University of Toronto, and colleagues in a journal news release.

"Children who develop meningitis before CI appear to be at an increased risk of device failure. Most patients maintain or improve their best preoperative level of speech perception after CI reimplantation, but patients with gradual device failure have less chance of good hearing recovery," they concluded.

The study appears in the December issue of the journal Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more about cochlear implants.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Dec. 19, 2011

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