Objective While several perinatal risk factors for permanent childhood hearing impairment (PCHI) are known, association with gestational length remains unclear. We hypothesised that shorter gestational length predicts higher PCHI risk.
Design 19 504 participants from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (born 2000–2002, prior to newborn screening).
Methods Multivariable discrete-time survival analysis to examine associations between parent-reported PCHI by age 11 years and gestational length, plus other prespecified factors.
Results PCHI affected 2.1 per 1000 children (95% CI 1.5 to 3.0) by age 11; however, gestational length did not predict PCHI risk (HR, 95% CI 1.00, 0.98 to 1.03 per day increase). Risk was increased in those with neonatal illness, with or without admission to neonatal care (6.33, 2.27 to 17.63 and 2.62, 1.15 to 5.97, respectively), of Bangladeshi or Pakistani ethnicity (2.78, 1.06 to 7.31) or born to younger mothers (0.92, 0.87 to 0.97 per year).
Conclusion Neonatal illness, rather than gestational length, predicts PCHI risk. Further research should explore associations with ethnicity.
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Contributors All authors contributed to the study conception and the analytic plan. EB designed and conducted the analyses, and wrote the first draft of the paper. All authors interpreted the results and implications, commented on the manuscript at all stages and approved the final submitted version.
Funding EB is funded by an Economic and Social Research Council studentship, grant number: ES/J500185/1. RLK is a Clinical Advisor to the NHS Newborn Blood Spot Screening Programme at Public Health England. CD is supported by Health Data Research UK, which is funded by the UK Medical Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, National Institute for Health Research (England), Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), British Heart Foundation and Wellcome Trust. All research at Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health is made possible by the NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre. The Millennium Cohort Study is funded by grants to former and current directors of the study from the Economic and Social Research Council (Professor Heather Joshi, Professor Lucinda Platt and Professor Emla Fitzsimons) and a consortium of government funders.
Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. The study sponsors played no part in the design, data analysis and interpretation of this study; the writing of the manuscript or the decision to submit the paper for publication, and the authors’ work was independent of their funders.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement This study uses data from the Millennium Cohort Study which is available from the UK Data Archive.
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