Otitis media with effusion : an underestimated cause of hearing loss in infants
Hofkens-van den Brandt, Anouk
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Otology and neurotology. - Philadelphia, Pa.
, p. 799-804
University of Antwerp
Objective: Otitis media with effusion (OME) is the major reason for failure of neonatal hearing screening. However, little is known about the impact on hearing status of OME in infants during the first months of life. Patients: Infants who failed universal newborn hearing screening. Methods: Prospective evaluation for the presence of OME, the degree of hearing loss and the disease evolution. Results: Between 2007 and 2008, approximately 152 infants were referred because of unilateral or bilateral failure on universal newborn hearing screening with an automated auditory brainstem response device. Eighty-four (55.3%) had OME, 20 of them were lost to follow-up. The remainder 64 infants comprised 37 boys and 27 girls, with a median age of 49 days (range, 40-65 d) at admission. Auditory brainstem response thresholds were 50 dB nHL (range, 40-60) in both ears. A spontaneous resolution of OME was documented in 15 infants. In the remaining, hearing normalized after tympanocentesis or placement of ventilation tubes. Normal hearing could be ascertained in all children at a median age of 4.8 months (range, 3.3-7.8 mo). In the group of infants analyzed, no permanent hearing loss could be detected. Conclusion: OME is an important cause of transient, moderately severe hearing loss during the first months of life-a critical period for development of the auditory system. Active treatment should be considered if spontaneous resolution does not occur to prevent any delay in language acquisition and to exclude an underlying sensorineural hearing loss.