Risk Factors for Congenital Hearing Loss: Which Are the Most Relevant?

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Introduction: Congenital hearing loss is a multifactorial disease that affects mostly premature newborns exposed to certain risk factors. The recent widespread introduction of newborn hearing screening in Tîrgu Mureş, Romania prompted the need for a multidisciplinary centralized study on the subject.

Case series presentation: We collected data from 340 neonates born in 2014 who had undergone neonatal hearing screening with otoacoustic emissions. Our focus group consisted of 137 neonates with a gestational age of less than 37 weeks. We collected data on the pregnancy, birth, and perinatal period, and then analyzed the impact of infections, treatments — with or without ototoxic potential, hypoxia, mechanical ventilation, intrauterine malnutrition, and the presence of malformations. Premature neonates showed a significantly higher number of REFER results than those with a normal gestational age. The rates of low birthweight, head circumference, and infant length; low Apgar scores; hypoxia in the perinatal period; the presence of placental pathology, mechanical ventilation, and perinatal infections; and the concomitant potentially ototoxic treatment were significantly higher in the REFER group. The age of the mother, bilirubin levels, and oxytocin use during birth did not prove to be relevant.

Conclusions: Known risk factors can cause hearing loss in a considerable number of newborns and mandate a multidisciplinary approach to the problem at hand. The referral of these patients to an ENT specialist and their correct management according to an individualized hearing recovery plan is crucial

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