Children with the surgically implanted hearing aids called cochlear implants rate their quality of life as highly as children with normal hearing, according to one of the first studies that looked at children as well as their parents.
The findings are important, the researchers said, because deaf children often feel socially isolated, have trouble making friends and tend to have low self-esteem as a result. The lead author, Betty A. Loy, said the information would be useful to parents making decisions about cochlear implants for their babies.
“They want to know: ‘Is my kid going to be made fun of? Is my kid going to be bullied? How is my kid going to feel about themselves with this apparatus on their head?’ ” said Dr. Loy, of the Dallas Cochlear Implant Program.
The researchers asked 84 children with cochlear implants how they felt about themselves, their family lives, their friends and school. Parents were questioned separately, and the responses were compared with those of a control group of 1,501 children the same ages, 8 to 16, with normal hearing. The paper appears in the Feb. 1 issue of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.
Though the overall quality-of-life scores were very similar to those of the control group, the younger children appeared to be happier than the adolescents but scored their family lives lower than did children with normal hearing.