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Low-Birthweight Babies at Risk for Conductive Hearing Loss

Transient evoked otoacoustic emission testing a good first-stage screening

FRIDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Very low-birthweight infants have a low incidence of sensory-neural hearing loss and a relatively high likelihood of conductive hearing loss compared with other infants, according to a report in the July issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition. Overall, screening with transient evoked otoacoustic emission is an effective way to screen such infants.

Daphne Ari-Even Roth, of The Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, and colleagues studied 346 low-birthweight infants born between January 1998 and December 2000, and compared the frequency of hearing loss with other newborns participating in the universal hearing screening program.

The researchers found that 87.2 percent of the very low-birthweight infants passed the screening, compared with 92.2 percent of the control group. Only one infant (0.3 percent) was found to have sensory-neural hearing loss in both ears, but nine infants, or 2.7 percent, were diagnosed with conductive hearing loss. A low Apgar score and bronchopulmonary dysplasia were associated with conductive hearing loss.

"Very low-birthweight infants should be carefully monitored for their high incidence of conductive hearing loss (and) follow-up studies should be conducted to confirm this trend, particularly with increased survival of extremely low-birthweight infants," the authors concluded.

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