Infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have a higher incidence of perinatal complications and delayed maturational processes. Parameters of the auditory brainstem response (ABR) were analyzed to study the prevalence of delayed auditory maturation or neural pathology. The prevalence of prolonged I-V interval as a measure of delayed maturation and the correlation with ABR thresholds were investigated. All infants admitted to the NICU Sophia Children's Hospital between 2004 and 2009 who had been referred for ABR measurement after failing neonatal hearing screening with automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) were included. The ABR parameters were retrospectively analyzed. Between 2004 and 2009, 103 infants were included: 46 girls and 57 boys. In 58.3% (60 infants) of our population, the I-V interval was recordable in at least one ear at first diagnostic ABR measurement. In 4.9%, the I-V interval was severely prolonged. The median ABR threshold of infants with a normal or mildly prolonged I-V interval was 50 dB. The median ABR threshold of infants with a severely prolonged I-V interval was 30 dB. In conclusion, in case both peak I and V were measurable, we found only a limited (4.9%) incidence of severely prolonged I-V interval (≥0.8 ms) in this high-risk NICU population. A mild delay in maturation is a more probable explanation than major audiologic or neural pathology, as ABR thresholds were near normal in these infants.

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European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam