Objective: To characterize the association between hyperbilirubinemia and a failed newborn hearing screen in infants born at 22-32 weeks of gestation.
Study design: We included infants with gestational ages of 22-32 weeks who were discharged from neonatal intensive care units in the US from 2002 to 2017 with available newborn hearing screen results obtained after 34 weeks postmenstrual age. We excluded infants with severe birth asphyxia or craniofacial abnormalities. We identified 95 672 infants from 313 neonatal intensive care units. We used multivariable logistic regression to examine the association between maximum total bilirubin at <21 days postnatal age with failed hearing screen, adjusting for important demographic and clinical risk factors.
Results: The median gestational age and birth weight were 30 weeks (IQR, 28-32 weeks) and 1330 g (IQR, 1010-1630 g), respectively. The median maximum total bilirubin was 8.3 mg/dL (IQR, 6.7-10.0 mg/dL), and 5275 infants (6%) failed their newborn hearing screen. On adjusted analysis, each 1 mg/dL increase in maximum total bilirubin was associated with a small, but significant, increase in odds of a failed hearing screen (OR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.02-1.04).
Conclusions: An increased maximum total bilirubin level was independently associated with hearing screen failure. Further prospective studies are needed to understand whether this increased risk of hearing screen failure translates to increased risk of hearing loss.
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