Dysfunction of the Auditory System in Children With Hypothyroidism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Ear Hear. 2022 Jan/Feb;43(1):23-31. doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000001082.


Objective: To examine the prevalence of hearing impairment in children with hypothyroidism, and to characterize clinical and subclinical hearing loss by examining cochlear function, auditory brainstem pathways, and integration of the auditory system as a whole.

Design: An electronic search was conducted using PubMed, Scopus, and Cochrane Library databases. This systematic review was performed in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines. Original observational studies that utilized audiological tests for auditory system evaluations in hypothyroidism were included. A total of 2004 studies were found in the search, with 23 studies meeting the inclusion criteria.

Results: The pooled prevalence of hearing loss was 16.1% [95% confidence interval 10.7, 22.4] for children with congenital hypothyroidism. Hearing thresholds at pure-tone averages (0.5-2 kHz) were 1.6 dB [95% confidence interval 1.7, 4.8] higher for children with hypothyroidism compared to age-matched controls. Cochlear dysfunction was detected at middle frequencies (1-3 kHz) by otoacoustic emission testing, indicating abnormalities of hair cell function or cochlear integration. Retrocochlear involvement was detected on auditory brainstem response (ABR), with prolonged Wave I indicating a peripheral conduction abnormality localized to the middle or inner ear and eighth cranial nerve.

Conclusions: Children with hypothyroidism have a higher prevalence of hearing loss than children without hypothyroidism. For children with congenital hypothyroidism, evidence of subclinical abnormalities at the level of the cochlea and eighth cranial nerve are present despite early initiation of levothyroxine therapy. Dysfunction of the auditory system might begin with predominance of peripheral conduction abnormalities early in development.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Child
  • Cochlea
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism*
  • Deafness*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / physiology
  • Hearing Loss* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous / physiology