Risk Factors for Sensorineural Hearing Loss in Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia

Document Type: Original


1 Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Department of Midwifery, School of Medicine, Islamic Azad University, Tonekabon Branch, Tonekabon, Iran.

3 Orthopedic Research Centre, Ghaem Hospital, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

4 Sinus and Surgical Endoscopic Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.


Hyperbilirubinemia is a common neonatal problem with toxic effects on the nervous system that can cause hearing impairment. This study was conducted to assess the risk factors for sensorineural hearing loss and other coexisting problems in icteric infants.
Materials and Methods:
In a case-control study, 200 term infants with bilirubin levels higher than 20 mg/dl admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit of Ghaem Hospital, Mashhad during 2007–2015 were investigated. Profiles of infants with hearing impairment (n=60) were compared with those of icteric newborns with normal hearing (140 newborns) as the control group. After confirming the clinical diagnosis of jaundice by laboratory findings, a validated questionnaire containing mother and infant profiles were used for data collection. The auditory brainstem response test was used for assessment of infant hearing status after discharge.
Sensorineural hearing loss among infants with severe hyperbilirubinemia was found to be 4.8%. Serum total bilirubin (P=0.001), creatinine levels (P=0.002), direct Coombs test results (P=0.001), etiology (P=0.000) and treatment for jaundice (P=0.000), eye movement disorders (P=0.001), opisthotonos (P=0.001), and microcephaly (P=0.001) were found to be significantly different between the two groups (P<0.005). The prognostic predictability of sensorineural hearing loss based on total bilirubin level was found to be 82%.
Hearing impairment occurs about 10–50 times more frequently in neonates with severe jaundice. Total bilirubin level has the highest predictability for infant hearing status. Blood group and Rhesus (Rh) incompatibilities between mother and child and G6PD deficiency are important known causes for hearing impairment due to jaundice.


Main Subjects

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