Brainstem auditory evoked potentials were recorded in 117 newborn infants of less than 33 weeks of gestation. The potentials were absent in 10 infants (bilaterally in eight and unilaterally in two) and present in 107. By 1 year of age nine of the 10 infants with absent brainstem auditory evoked potentials were shown to have sensory neural hearing loss and required hearing aids: the remaining infant had secretory otitis media. None of the 107 infants whose auditory evoked potentials were present were found to have sensory neural hearing loss but 13 had secretory otitis media. Measurement of brainstem auditory evoked potentials is an accurate method of identifying sensory neural hearing loss in very preterm infants.
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