Background Little is known about follow up of NICU graduates with permanent hearing loss (HL) following introduction of neonatal hearing screening.
Aim Evaluation of etiology, severity of HL, school type and mode of communication in NICU graduates.
Methods All NICU graduates with HL identified at the age of 3–5 years at the speech and hearing centres in the Netherlands were included. Results of 2 stage AABR neonatal hearing screening, medical and audiologic follow up as well as performance measures for school type and primary mode of communication were evaluated.
Results Included were 91 newborns [BW 1990 g (sd 1070); GA 32.9 wks (sd 5.3)]. Of those 5.6% passed neonatal hearing screening. In 44.3% moderate HL (40–60 dB), in 23.9% severe (60–80 dB) and in 31.8% profound HL (>80 dB) was established.
In 33/91 cases parental consent was obtained for adjuvant follow up data. In 30.3% HL was of hereditary origin, in 24.2% HL was caused by asphyxia, in 9.1% by CMV-infection. In 8 cases (24.2%) no cause was identified.
Up to 71.4% of NICU graduates attended schools for deaf and hard of hearing, 3.6% different special education, while 25% visit regular education. In 82.8% a combination of spoken en signed language was used for communication.
Conclusions After introduction of AABR universal neonatal hearing screening and early intervention in NICU graduates most affected children have moderate to severe HL, attend schools for deaf and hard of hearing, and use a combination of signed and spoken language at age 3–5 years.