Objective: Viral infections are known to be a risk factor for neonatal hearing loss. COVID-19 infection has been reported to affect hearing test results in one small sample sized study. We aimed to investigate the incidence the risk of neonatal hearing loss in infants of mothers who had COVID-19 infection during pregnancy, regarding their trimesters, by evaluating the neonatal hearing screening results.
Design: In this retrospective case-control study, neonatal hearing test results of 458 women with a history of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy were compared with 339 women who gave birth before the pandemic. Data of pregnant women who attended the COVID-19 outpatient clinic of the emergency service of a tertiary pandemic hospital and who had confirmed infection with a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test were determined from the hospital's records and their neonatal hearing screening results were analyzed from the national database. Neonates born before <34 weeks, and with reported risk factors in the database such as congenital anomaly or known TORCH infection during pregnancy were excluded. The screening tests, Automated Auditory Brainstem Response or Transient Evoked Otoacoustic Emission (TEOAE), were used for screening, and patients who failed the first screening were reevaluated at least 2 weeks apart with a second screening.
Results: The incidence of failed second screening was 1.3% in the COVID-19 group and 2.9% in controls, and no significant difference was observed between the two groups according to the final screening results on the second test. Among the 458 mothers, 8 were infected in first trimester, 126 in second trimester, 127 in third trimester but did not deliver within 15 days after infection and 197 were positive at birth. Six neonates in the infected group failed the second screening (3 [2.4%] in the second trimester, 1 [0.8%] third trimester, and 2 [1.0%] positive at birth).
Conclusions: COVID-19 infection during pregnancy was not found to be a risk factor for hearing loss, according to the newborn hearing screening results.
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