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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2010 Feb;74(2):206-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2009.11.015. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Bilateral versus unilateral cochlear implantation in young children.

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  • 1The Ear Foundation, Nottingham, United Kingdom.



To compare the preverbal communication skills of two groups of young implanted children: those with unilateral implantation and those with bilateral implantation.


The study assessed 69 children: 42 unilaterally and 27 bilaterally implanted with age at implantation less than 3 years. The preverbal skills of these children were measured before and 1 year after implantation, using Tait Video Analysis that has been found able to predict later speech outcomes in young implanted children.


Before implantation there was no significant difference between the unilateral group and the bilateral group. There was still no difference at 12 months following implantation where vocal autonomy is concerned, but a strongly significant difference between the groups for vocal turn-taking and non-looking vocal turns, the bilateral group outperforming the unilateral group. Regarding gestural turn-taking and gestural autonomy, there was a strongly significant difference between the two groups at the 12 month interval, and also a difference before implantation for gestural autonomy, the unilateral group having the higher scores. Multiple regression of non-looking vocal turns revealed that 1 year following implantation, bilateral implantation contributed to 51% of the variance (p<0.0001), after controlling for the influence of age at implantation and length of deafness which did not reach statistical significance.


Profoundly deaf bilaterally implanted children are significantly more likely to use vocalisation to communicate, and to use audition when interacting vocally with an adult, compared with unilaterally implanted children. These results are independent of age at implantation and length of deafness.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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