Hearing loss is the most common congenital disorder the incidence of which is further increased in the presence of risk factors for hearing loss among newborns admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The aim of this study was early diagnosis and intervention for hearing loss in newborns discharged from NICU.
Materials and Methods
This prospective cohort study was conducted on 3,362 newborns discharged from the NICU in several hospitals in Babol, Iran. Each newborn was evaluated through the transient evoked otoacoustic emission (T) EOAE test. In the absence of any result, retests including TEOAE and diagnostic auditory brainstem response (ABR) were conducted. In case of hearing loss, intervention programs including hearing aids fitting and cochlear implant were considered for infants. Each newborn infant was follow-up for four years. The infant’s age was also calculated during the hearing loss diagnosis and the intervention program.
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) was diagnosed in 35 (1.04%) of the infants at an average age of 105.65 + 96.72 days. Most of hearing loss diagnosis (51.43%) was before the age of 3 months. Hearing aids were fitted for 25 infants (80.64%) with a mean age of 9.61 + 7.64 months. Cochlear implants were done for two (8%) children. At the end of the follow up, all of the children except one case (3.22%) were able to use verbal communication.
Hearing screening of the high risk NICU graduate babies has reduced the age of hearing loss diagnosis to 3 months. The presence of severe to profound hearing loss in this population highlights the importance of early diagnosis and intervention.