Monitoring for postnatal hearing loss using risk factors: a systematic literature review

Ear Hear. 2012 Nov-Dec;33(6):745-56. doi: 10.1097/AUD.0b013e31825b1cd9.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate whether there was evidence-based support for targeted surveillance programs using a risk-factor registry to detect postnatal hearing loss or whether other programs were available that may be more effective than targeted surveillance. Particularly, it addressed questions that arose along the targeted surveillance pathway, including: (1) the risk factors used to determine a referral, (2) referral frequencies, (3) the relationship between risk factors and a postnatal hearing loss, and (4) other systems that may be more efficient than the use of risk factors.

Design: A systematic literature review was completed in peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed databases.

Methods: Publications were obtained using the databases MEDLINE, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Excerpta Medica on line, and by inspecting the reference lists of relevant articles and expert-committee papers. Quality assessment ratings and data extraction were completed by the research team.

Results: In total, 40 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review. The outcomes drawn from these studies were inconclusive as they were based on small sample sizes and largely from single sites only. With this in mind, from the information obtained: (1) gestational age, low-birth weight, toxoplasmosis, other infections, rubella, cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus infections, craniofacial anomalies, respirator support, and the administration of aminoglycosides were the more commonly reported risk factors in programs; (2) referral frequency for monitoring appointments was approximately 3%; and (3) CMV, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn were associated with postnatal hearing loss, whereas, preauricular skin tags and ear pits, low-birth weight, and toxoplasmosis were not. The review also identified that second-phase universal screening programs, CMV screening, and genetic screening should be explored as potential additions or alternatives to targeted surveillance using risk factors.

Conclusions: Further large-scale, population-based research on available programs for the detection of postnatal hearing loss should be conducted to improve present practice and assist with the development of evidence-based guidelines for hearing monitoring.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening*
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Registries*
  • Risk Factors