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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2003 Mar;67(3):247-53.

Speech perception of Mandarin Chinese speaking young children after cochlear implant use: effect of age at implantation.

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Department of Otolaryngology, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, No 138, Sheng-Li Road, Tainan 704, Taiwan.



The purposes of this study were to examine (1). whether the benefit of cochlear implants in Mandarin-speaking congenitally deaf children persists over a 2-year follow-up period, and (2). whether the age of the child at implantation affects the acquisition of speech perception by young deafened children.


Sixteen congenitally deaf children received implants of Nucleus CI24M devices. Speech perception tests were conducted using the Mandarin Auditory Perception Test Battery at 6-month intervals after connection of the device. We determined the benefit of cochlear implants by monitoring percent correct scores between 12 and 24 months after implantation. Regression analysis was used to correlate the measures of progress and the age at implantation.


In the comparison of performance at 12 and 24 months post-connection, subjects performed significantly better at 24 than at 12 months in spondee, vowel, and consonant tests (P<0.05). In phrase and sentence tests, the mean score improved over time with device use, but the difference was not significant (P=0.066 and 0.067, respectively). However, no obvious improvement in average score was found in tone tests (P=0.386). Progress (improvement in speech perception) at 12 and 24 months had moderate negative correlations with age at implantation in spondee, vowel, phrase and sentence tests (P<0.05), but no correlation with age in consonant (P=0.20) and tone tests (P=0.26).


The result, in accordance with the reports on Western language-speaking children, showed cochlear implants increasingly benefit Mandarin-speaking congenitally deaf children over a 2-year post-implantation period. Because age at implantation negatively correlates with improved speech perception after implantation, congenitally affected children with profound deafness (if they cannot obtain enough benefit from hearing aids) should receive implants as early as possible.

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