The relationship between neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and sensorineural hearing loss

Cándido Corujo-Santana, Juan Carlos Falcón-González, Silvia Andrea Borkoski-Barreiro, Daniel Pérez-Plasencia, Ángel Ramos-Macías
Acta Otorrinolaringológica Española 2015, 66 (6): 326-31

INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVE: Severe jaundice that requires exchange transfusion has become a relatively rare situation today. About 60% of full term neonates and 80% of premature ones will suffer from jaundice within the first week of life. Hyperbilirubinemia at birth is a risk factor associated with hearing loss that is usually further linked to other factors that might have an effect on hearing synergistically. This study aimed to identify the relationship between hyperbilirubinemia at birth as a risk factor for sensorineural hearing loss in children born at Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno-Infantil de Gran Canaria, in the 2007-2011 period.

METHOD: This was a retrospective study of 796 newborns that had hyperbilirubinemia at birth, using transient evoked otoacoustic emissions and evoked auditory brainstem response.

RESULTS: Hundred eighty-five newborns (23.24%) were referred for evoked auditory brainstem response. Hearing loss was diagnosed for 35 (4.39%): 18 neonates (51.43%) with conductive hearing loss and 17 (48.57%) with sensorineural hearing loss, 3 of which were diagnosed as bilateral profound hearing loss. Half of the children had other risk factors associated, the most frequent being exposure to ototoxic medications.

CONCLUSIONS: The percentage of children diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss that suffered hyperbilirubinemia at birth is higher than for the general population. Of those diagnosed, none had levels of indirect bilirubin≥20mg/dl, only 47% had hyperbilirubinemia at birth as a risk factor and 53% had another auditory risk factor associated.

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