Hearing Screening in NICU Graduates
Ira Shah
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Hearing Screening In NICU Graduates - Introduction
NICU graduates are at a high risk for developing sensorineural hearing defects. Babies having following conditions are at higher risk and should be referred for hearing testing:
- Family history of hereditary childhood hearing loss.
- Birth weight of less than 1500 grams.
- Intrauterine infection - cytomegalovirus, rubella, syphilis, herpes, toxoplasmosis etc.
- Bacterial meningitis, encephalitis.
- Hyperbilirubinemia (high enough to warrant exchange transfusion)
- Craniofacial anomalies with malformations of the ear and abnormalities of palate & lips.
- Ototoxic drugs (aminoglycosides, loop diuretics)
- Mechanical ventilation required for 5 days or more.
- Central nervous system insult- birth asphyxia, intracranial hemorrhage, neonatal seizures etc.

Infants at risk should have the screening alone prior to discharge. Some infants may require re-screening after a month especially premature infants. Infants with bacterial meningitis, syndromes and ototoxic medications require evaluation at least every 6 months till 3 years of age and at appropriate intervals later.

Screening Tests:
- BERA: This is reliable only after 34 weeks of gestation.
- EOAE (Evoked otoacoustic emission): It is less desirable as a primary screening test.


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