Aim: To determine the prevalence and independent relationship between hearing loss and risk factors in a representative neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) population. Methods: Automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) hearing screening has been introduced since 1998 in the Dutch NICUs. After a second AABR failure, diagnostic ABR was used to establish diagnosis of hearing loss. Newborns who died before the age of 3 months were excluded. In the present study only the NICU infants who were born with a gestational age <30 weeks and/or a birth weight <1000 g between October 1, 1998 and January 1, 2002 were included. Risk factors included in the study were familial hearing loss, in utero infections, craniofacial anomalies, birth weight <1500g, hyperbilirubinemia, ototoxic medications, cerebral complications, severe birth asphyxia, assisted ventilation ≥5 days and syndromes. Results: A nationwide cohort of 2186 newborns were included. Mean gestational age was 28.5 weeks (SD 1.6) and mean birth weight was 1039 g (SD 256). Prevalence of uni- or bilateral hearing loss was 3.2% (71/2186; 95% CI 2.6-4.1). Multivariate analysis revealed that the only independent risk factors for hearing loss were severe birth asphyxia (OR 1.7; 95% CI 1.0-2.7) and assisted ventilation ≥5 days (OR 3.6; 95% CI 2.1-6.0). Conclusion: The prevalence of hearing loss in a representative NICU population was 3.2%. Independent risk factors for hearing loss were severe birth asphyxia and assisted ventilation ≥5 days.

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Acta Paediatrica: promoting child health
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hille, E., van Straaten, H., Verkerk, P., Baerts, W., Bunkers, C., Smink, E., … Bos, A. (2007). Prevalence and independent risk factors for hearing loss in NICU infants. Acta Paediatrica: promoting child health, 96(8), 1155–1158. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00398.x