Place of birth and characteristics of infants with congenital and early-onset hearing loss in a developing country

Bolajoko O Olusanya, Abayomi O Somefun
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2009, 73 (9): 1263-9

OBJECTIVE: To determine the characteristics of infants with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and the relationship with place of birth.

METHODS: Subjects were drawn from hospital-based and community-based universal infant hearing screening programs concurrently conducted from May 2005 to April 2008 in Lagos, Nigeria. Maternal and infant characteristics of children born in hospitals and detected with SNHL were compared with those born outside hospitals. Each program consisted of a first-stage screening with transient-evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAE) followed by second-stage automated auditory brainstem response (AABR). Hearing status was confirmed by diagnostic auditory brainstem response, tympanometry and visual response audiometry.

RESULTS: A total of 4718 infants were screened under the hospital-based program out of which 12 (0.3%) infants were confirmed with SNHL whereas 71 (1.0%) of the 7179 infants screened under the community-based program were confirmed with SNHL. Of all infants with SNHL 39 (47.0%) were born in hospitals suggesting that 27 (38.0%) of infants under the community-based program were born in hospitals. Prevalence of SNHL ranged from 4.0 per 1000 among infants born in government hospitals to 23 per 1000 among those born in family homes. Mothers of those born outside hospitals were significantly likely to belong to the Yoruba tribe (p<0.001), use herbal medications in pregnancy (p<0.001), deliver vaginally (p=0.004) but without skilled attendants at delivery (p<0.001). There were no significant differences among the infants themselves except that those born outside hospitals were significantly likely to be detected in the first 3 months of life compared to those born in hospitals (p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion of infants with SNHL in many developing countries are likely to be born outside hospitals thus underscoring the need for community-oriented UNHS to facilitate early detection and intervention. Conventional risk factors for SNHL are unlikely to discriminate across places of birth. Pediatricians and otolaryngologists should consider a more active role in fostering community-oriented delivery of primary ear care services in this and similar settings in the developing world.


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