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Deaf children under two years old can hear


Thanks to the cochlear implant deaf children under two years old can express and understand properly the language. Those are the results obtained by the University Clinic of the University of Navarre.

The University Clinic of Navarre is a pioneer in cochlear implant. This technique replaces the ear with a system that stimulates the hearing nerve electrically.

The programme of cochlear implant started in 1989 and one year later was done the first implant. This first implant was made to an 11 years old girl, and in 1992 it could be made for the first time to a 2 years old child. Nowadays, implants are also done to children of 10-12 months old successfully.

Since the application of this programme, 356 implants have been done to people between 9 months and 82 years old. Two third of the implants were done to children. In fact, 80 % of the cases of deafness can be detected at birth, and the earlier the implant is done the better are the results. In the case of adults that lose audition after learning the language, % 80 of them can recover the capacity to recognise words without reading the lips. In case of children, the percentage increases up to 95 %, unless they do not have any other disease.


Implants of children under two years are different comparing to implants done in other patients. The position is different and the size is also smaller. That makes it a meticulous operation. However, thanks to the improvement of the technique and the fact that children bones are very flexible, the operation only takes 45 minutes. Then, the implant is activated and programmed, because children, as they are too young, cannot help activating the implant.

Some other progresses

Until recent years, cochlear implants were only done to people with serious hearing loss. But now, the University Clinic has extended the implants to people that do not get successful results with audiphones. That way, anyone who has restricted his or her private and social life due to serious hearing loss, has now a new option available.

In addition, the department of Otorhynolaryngology has set up a bilateral implants programme to promote the normalisation of the hearing process. Hearing quality depends on the binaural perception. With two ears, we can know from which direction a sound comes from, in noise areas the hearing is better and the shadow effect of the head disappears. Furthermore, in case of neuronal plasticity of hearing, bilateral implants can be very useful.

Garazi Andonegi | BasqueResearch
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