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Influence of postconceptional age on universal newborn hearing screening in NICU-babies

DOI: 10.4081/audiores.2012.e1

Keywords: universal newborn hearing screening , neonatal intensive care unit , automated auditory brainstem response , postconceptional age.

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Abstract:

The feasibility of universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) using automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) devices in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is already well demonstrated. The aim of this study was to find out whether the postconceptional age (PCA) of the babies at the time of the AABR measurement has an influence on the measuring results and to determine the earliest time point for a reliable hearing screening in preterm neonates. Hearing screening measurements of 634 neonates (NICU-Babies) were included. We had complete data for 577 of these babies. The babies were born between 24 and 42 weeks of gestation in the years 2007-2008 and were screened in the Neonatal Unit of the Marburg University hospital. In this group, the hearing screening had been performed at or after 32 weeks of PCA. The AABR measurements showed a specificity of 93.9% (babies tested between 32 and 34 weeks of PCA), 95.8% (tested between 35 and 37 weeks), 95.9% (tested between 38 and 40 weeks of PCA) and 92.1% (tested after 40 weeks of PCA). Hearing screening yields reliable results at 32 weeks PCA. Therefore, an UNHS can be already performed before term without risking a higher rate of false positive results. However, individual factors such as cardiorespiratory and temperature stability of the baby should be considered.

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