Aim: Children born preterm often have neurodevelopmental problems later in life. Abnormal maturation of the auditory brainstem in the presence of normal hearing might be a marker for these problems. We conducted a meta-analysis of auditory brainstem response (ABR) latencies at term age to describe differences in auditory brainstem maturation between normal-hearing preterm and term-born infants. Method: Computerized databases were searched for studies published between 1995 and 2014 that reported ABR measurements at term age in infants born preterm in a case–control design. Five peaks reflect the conduction of a neural signal along the brainstem auditory pathway. We collected I to V interpeak latency data, and III to V interpeak latency data, which refers to the more central part of the pathway. Results: Preterm-born infants’ III to V interval is significantly longer compared to infants born at term (0.081ms, effect-size=0.974), which also reflects on the I to V interval. Moreover, significantly increased ABR interpeak latencies of infants born preterm are related to lower gestational age and the need for neonatal intensive care treatment. Interpretation: The delayed conduction time towards and into the auditory brainstem at term age suggests atypical maturation of the brainstem in normal-hearing infants born preterm. Both the duration of gestation and the consequences of the preterm birth (intensive care needed) negatively affect maturation of the auditory brainstem, which may influence later development.

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Journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Stipdonk, L.W, Weisglas-Kuperus, N, Franken, M-C, Nasserinejad, K, Dudink, J, & Goedegebure, A. (2016). Auditory brainstem maturation in normal-hearing infants born preterm: a meta-analysis. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology (Vol. 58, pp. 1009–1015). doi:10.1111/dmcn.13151