(HealthDay News) — Children with cochlear implants (CIs) are at risk for significant deficits across multiple domains of executive functioning, according to a study published online May 22 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

William G. Kronenberger, PhD, from Indiana University in Indianapolis, and colleagues conducted psychological testing sessions in 73 children at a hospital-based clinic who received their CIs >7 years of age. In addition, 78 children with normal hearing and average to above average mean nonverbal IQ scores were tested. Participants were recruited in two age groups: preschool age (range, 3–5 years) and school age (range, 7–17 years).

The researchers found that children with CIs were at 2–5 times greater risk of clinically significant deficits in most domains of executive functioning, compared with children with normal hearing. The relative risks (RRs) were greatest in the areas of comprehension and conceptual learning (RR, 3.56 for preschoolers and 6.25 for school-aged children); factual memory (RRs, 4.88 and 5.47); attention (RRs, 3.38 and 3.13); sequential processing (RRs, 11.25 and 2.44); working memory (RRs, 4.13 and 3.64 for one checklist and 1.77 and 2.78 for another checklist); and novel problem-solving (3.93 and 3.13). For visual-spatial organization, no difference was seen between the two groups.

“Screening for risk of executive functioning deficits should be a routine part of the clinical evaluation of all children with deafness and CIs,” the authors write.

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