Background and aims Studies have shown an association between Neonatal hearing loss (NHL) and preterm birth and low birth weight, but the prevalence of NHL more specific within these categories is not known. Aim of this study is to present the risk of NHL by week of gestation and categories of birth weight in an nationwide cohort of neonates born <32 weeks of gestation
Methods Results of the two-stage Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program in Dutch neonatal intensive care units and diagnostic examination were centrally registered between October 1998 and December 2012 and included in this study. NHL was defined as impaired when the neonates’ conventional Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) level exceeded 35 dB in one (unilateral) or two (bilateral) ears at diagnostic examination. Birth weight was stratified into <750 g, 750–999 g, 1000–1249 g, 1250–1499 g, and ≥1500 g.
Results In total 18,564 neonates with a gestational age between 24.0 and 31.9 weeks were eligible for this study. Logistic regression analyses revealed significant associations between gestational age, birth weight and both unilateral and bilateral NHL (all p < 0.002). Gestational age (p < 0.001) and birth weight (p < 0.01) were both independent risk indicators of total NHL, and associated with NHL in a dose-response relationship. The prevalence of NHL consistently increased with decreasing week of gestation (1.2% to 7.5% from 31 to 24 weeks) and decreasing birth weight (1.4% to 4.8% from ≥1500 g to <750 g).