MONDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Health-care providers should
move quickly to try to restore hearing in children who become deaf
after developing pneumococcal meningitis, a small new study
The number of cases of meningitis and related diseases have
dropped sharply since a vaccine for meningitis -- the 7-valent
pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) -- became available in
"However, pneumococcal meningitis continues to occur, even in healthy children who receive the recommended PCV7 vaccination series in early childhood," Drs. Tina Tan and Nancy Young. from Children's Memorial Hospital and Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, said in a news release from the journal in which the study was published.
In children left deaf by the disease, the cochlea tends to
harden into bone over time, making it difficult to install an
electronic hearing device known as a cochlear implant, Tan and
Young explained. (The cochlea is the structure in the ear where
sound vibrations are converted into nerve impulses.)
For this reason, the two physicians wrote, it's important for
cochlear implant programs to proceed quickly to install the hearing
device in children recently deafened by meningitis.
Their small case series study included five PCV7-vaccinated
children, aged 15 months to 10 years, who lost hearing in both ears
after being ill with pneumococcal meningitis. They received
immediate evaluation and treatment, and all successfully underwent
cochlear implantation in both ears to restore hearing. The average
time between meningitis diagnosis and cochlear implantation was
Although children being evaluated for a cochlear implant in the
authors' clinic usually undergo a hearing aid trial for two to
three months, Tan and Young felt more more rapid treatment was
needed in three of the post-meningitis patients to ensure that the
implants took place before the cochlea hardened.
The study appears in the October issue of the journal
Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.
The Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada has more about