Newborn oto-acoustic emission hearing screening tests: preliminary evidence for a marker of susceptibility to SIDS

Early Hum Dev. 2008 Apr;84(4):225-9. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2007.06.001. Epub 2007 Jul 5.


Objective: To evaluate the newborn transient evoked otoacoustic emission (TEOAE) hearing screening tests of infants later diagnosed with the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Study design: In a case-controlled study, the newborn TEOAE hearing screens of 31 infants who subsequently died of SIDS were retrospectively compared to those of 31 newborn infants that survived the first year of life. SIDS cases were individually matched to surviving controls based on gender, term versus preterm age and NICU versus well baby nursery.

Results: The TEOAE screens of SIDS infants demonstrated significantly decreased signal to noise ratios at 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz (p<0.05) on the right side compared to healthy control infants.

Conclusion: Newborns at risk for SIDS are currently indistinguishable from other newborns and are only identified following a later fatal event. A unilateral difference in cochlear function is a unique finding that may offer the opportunity to identify infants at risk of SIDS during the early postnatal period with a simple non invasive hearing screen test. The ability to implement preventative measures well in advance of a potential critical incident would be an important breakthrough.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Ear, Inner / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hearing Tests
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening*
  • Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous / physiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sudden Infant Death / diagnosis
  • Sudden Infant Death / etiology*