The effect of preterm birth on brainstem, middle latency and cortical auditory evoked responses (BMC AERs)

Early Hum Dev. 1992 Dec;31(2):113-29. doi: 10.1016/0378-3782(92)90039-j.


Recent studies on the maturation of auditory brainstem evoked responses (ABRs) present conflicting results, whereas only sparse reports exist with respect to the maturation of middle latency auditory evoked responses (MLRs) and auditory cortical evoked responses (ACRs). The present study reports the effect of preterm birth on the maturation of auditory evoked responses in low risk preterm infants (27-34 weeks conceptional age). The ABRs indicate a consistent trend towards longer latencies for all individual ABR components and towards longer interpeak latencies in preterm infants. The MLR shows longer latencies for early component P0 in preterm infants. The ACRs show a remarkable difference between preterm and term infants. At 40 weeks CA the latencies of ACR components Na and P2 are significantly longer in term infants, whereas at 52 weeks CA the latencies of the same ACR components are shorter in term infants. The results support the hypothesis that retarded myelination of the central auditory pathway is partially responsible for differences found between preterm infants and term infants with respect to late ABR components and early MLR component P0. Furthermore, mild conductive hearing loss in preterm infants may also play its role. A more complex mechanism is implicated to account for the findings noted with respect to MLR component Na and ACR components Na and P2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors