Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in developed countries and leads to a severe reduction in quality of life. In this uncontrolled case series, we evaluated the auditory development in patients suffering from congenital nonsyndromic hearing impairment related to preterm birth.
Six patients delivered preterm (25th–35th gestational weeks) suffering from mild to profound congenital nonsyndromic hearing impairment, descending from healthy, nonconsanguineous parents and were evaluated by otoacoustic emissions, tympanometry, brainstem-evoked response audiometry, and genetic testing. All patients were treated with hearing aids, and one patient required cochlear implantation.
One preterm infant (32nd gestational week) initially presented with a 70 dB hearing loss, accompanied by negative otoacoustic emissions and normal tympanometric findings. The patient was treated with hearing aids and displayed a gradual improvement in bilateral hearing that completely normalized by 14 months of age accompanied by the development of otoacoustic emission responses.
We present here for the first time a fully documented preterm patient with delayed auditory pathway maturation and normalization of hearing within 14 months of birth. Although rare, postpartum development of the auditory system should, therefore, be considered in the initial stages for treating preterm hearing impaired patients.