Evaluation of Gentamicin Exposure in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Hearing Function at Discharge

J Pediatr. 2018 Dec;203:131-136. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.07.101. Epub 2018 Sep 21.


Objective: To characterize the association between gentamicin dosing, duration of treatment, and ototoxicity in hospitalized infants.

Study design: This retrospective cohort study conducted at 330 neonatal intensive care units (2002-2014) included inborn infants exposed to gentamicin with available hearing screen results, and excluded infants with incomplete dosing data and major congenital anomalies. Our primary outcome was the final hearing screen result performed during hospitalization: abnormal (failed or referred for further testing in one or both ears) or normal (bilateral passed). The 4 measures of gentamicin exposure were highest daily dose, average daily dose, cumulative dose, and cumulative duration of exposure. We fitted separate multivariable logistic regression models adjusted for demographics, comorbidities, and other clinical events.

Results: A total of 84 808 infants met inclusion/exclusion criteria; median (25th, 75th percentile) gestational age and birth weight were 35 weeks (33, 38) and 2480 g (1890, 3184), respectively. Failed hearing screens occurred in 3238 (3.8%) infants; failed screens were more likely in infants of lower gestational age and birth weight, who had longer hospital lengths of stay, higher rates of morbidities, and were small for gestational age. Median highest daily dose, average daily dose, and cumulative dose were 4.0 mg/kg/day (3.0, 4.0), 3.8 mg/kg/day (3.0, 4.0), and 12.1 mg/kg (9.1, 20.5), respectively. Median cumulative duration of exposure was 3 days (3, 6). In adjusted analysis, gentamicin dose and duration of therapy were not associated with hearing screen failure.

Conclusions: Gentamicin dosing and duration of treatment were not associated with increased odds of failed hearing screen at the time of discharge from initial neonatal intensive care unit stay.

Keywords: gentamicin; hearing screen; ototoxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Gentamicins / administration & dosage*
  • Gentamicins / adverse effects
  • Gestational Age
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis
  • Hearing Tests*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins