This study investigated hearing threshold changes during the first year of corrected age (CA) in infants admitted in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). In 5 years, 239 infants with birth weight (BW) ≤ 1,000 gm and/or gestational age (GA) ≤ 30 weeks were enrolled. Hearing was evaluated by oto-acoustic emission (OAEs) before discharge and auditory brainstem response (ABR) within 3 months of CA. Infants affected by unilateral or bilateral hearing loss were addressed to audiological follow-up until definitive diagnosis (within 6 months of CA). Changes in hearing threshold were also carefully analysed. 207 (86.6%) infants had normal hearing while 32 infants (13.4%) showed hearing loss (HL) at the confirmative ABR evaluation (9 mild, 16 moderate, 4 severe, 3 profound). The latter showed lower GA (27.7 ± 2 vs 28.4 ± 1.2; p = 0.0061) and BW (950 ± 390 vs 1,119 ± 326 gm; p = 0.0085). At final evaluation, 15 infants (47%) recovered a normal hearing. HL was confirmed in 17 patients. Among these, 3 infants were addressed to audiological follow-up (one case of mild unilateral hearing loss (UHL) and two with moderate UHL), while in 14 cases (44%) with bilateral sensory neural hearing loss (SNHL) (7 moderate, 4 severe, 3 profound) hearing aids were prescribed. They showed significantly lower GA and longer hospital stay in the NICU in comparison with infants without indication for audiological habilitation (18 infants) (GA 26.2 ± 2.2 weeks vs 28.4 ± 2.4; p = 0.01; NICU stay 132 ± 67 vs 59 ± 7; p = 0.0002). Definitive diagnosis was obtained at 5.9 ± 1.3 months of CA. Our study confirms the importance of audiological surveillance in preterm newborns. Hearing thresholds of preterm infants with hearing loss can change during the first year of CA and we observed normalisation in 47% of our patients. Most vulnerable to permanent SNHL were very preterm infants with a longer NICU stay, while a shorter stay represents a favourable prognostic factor for hearing improvement.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)257-262
Numero di pagine6
RivistaActa Otorhinolaryngologica Italica
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2019


  • Deafness
  • Hearing Aids
  • Hearing Loss
  • Hearing aids
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Premature
  • NICU Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Newborn hearing screening
  • Preterm infants
  • Prevalence

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