Parents and pediatricians agree about the importance of ensuring each child’s optimal physical, emotional, and social development. Largely because of its impact on communication, congenital hearing loss seriously threatens that development. In deciding how to communicate with their children, the parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH), 92% of whom have normal hearing,1 have been torn for many years by the acrimonious debate between advocates of sign language versus advocates of aural and oral education. Fortunately, advances in technology and practice over the past 25 years (eg, newborn hearing screening, digital hearing aids, cochlear implants, and early educational intervention) have dramatically improved the opportunities for children who are DHH to learn communication skills critical to optimal development at levels comparable to their hearing peers.

The majority of parents with infants who are profoundly deaf are now opting for cochlear implants, and research about the benefits...

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