Several mitochondrial DNA variants increase risk for developing sensorineural hearing loss following exposure to aminoglycoside antibiotics, a particular concern in the premature infant population, as many of these babies spend time in neonatal intensive care units and are treated with aminoglycosides. To determine the relative prevalence of five mitochondrial DNA variants in the 12S rRNA gene, MT-RNR1, we genotyped 703 neonatal intensive care unit patients and 1473 individuals from the general Iowa population. We found that the aggregate frequency of these variants (∼1.8%) was comparable between populations. Although no hearing loss was detected by newborn hearing screens in the at-risk patients, these neonatal intensive care unit graduates have an increased life-time risk for developing aminoglycoside-induced deafness.
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