It is estimated that less than 1% of the newborns present hearing loss during infancy. The Government of Puerto Rico instituted recently the Hearing Screening Law considering that from 55,000 live-born babies in the island, approximately 174 new cases of auditory loss are identified yearly. Hearing loss is one of the conditions directly affecting the development of the premature infant. Given the conditions and challenges that these infants have to overcome to survive and to adapt to their new environment, it is necessary to consider the factors and variables that can precipitate the acquisition of auditory loss.
Purpose Identify hearing loss in preterm infants and describe the characteristics of this group of patients.
Methods Automated auditory brainstem response (A-ABR) was performed in a group of preterm infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit during a 1-year period.
Results A total of 103 newborns were included in the study. The mean gestational age was 30 weeks and mean birth weight was 1,030 g. Twelve babies presented hearing loss (11%). Most of the babies with hearing loss were females (75%), had low APGAR scores (78%), and required resuscitation at the delivery room (75%). Retinopathy of prematurity was prevalent in this group of babies (73%).
Conclusion Hearing loss is more prevalent in preterm infants when compared to the general population of newborns. Risk factors for hearing loss in this group of infants need to be identified in order to prevent and/or identify it so that early intervention can be instituted.
This study was supported by a grant from the State Council for Developmental Disabilities.