BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Significant hyperbilirubinemia (SHB) may cause chronic auditory toxicity (auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder and/or sensorineural hearing loss); however, total serum bilirubin (TSB) does not discriminate neonates at risk for auditory toxicity. Our objective was to compare TSB, bilirubin albumin molar ratio (BAMR), and unbound bilirubin (UB) for their association with chronic auditory toxicity in neonates with SHB (TSB ≥20 mg/dL or TSB that met criteria for exchange transfusion).
METHODS: Infants ≥34 weeks’ gestational age (GA) with SHB during the first 2 postnatal weeks were eligible for a prospective longitudinal study in India. Comprehensive auditory evaluations were performed at 2 to 3 months of age by using auditory brainstem response, tympanometry, and an otoacoustic emission test and at 9 to 12 months of age by using audiometry. The evaluations were performed by an audiologist unaware of the degree of jaundice.
RESULTS: A total of 93 out of 100 infants (mean GA of 37.4 weeks; 55 boys, 38 girls) who were enrolled with SHB were evaluated for auditory toxicity. Of those, 12 infants (13%) had auditory toxicity. On regression analysis controlling for covariates, peak UB (but not peak TSB or peak BAMR), was associated with auditory toxicity (odds ratio 2.41; 95% confidence interval: 1.43–4.07; P = .001). There was significant difference in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curves between UB (0.866), TSB (0.775), and BAMR (0.724) for auditory toxicity (P = .03) after controlling for covariates.
CONCLUSIONS: Unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia indexed by UB (but not TSB or BAMR) is associated with chronic auditory toxicity in infants ≥34 weeks’ GA with SHB.
- Accepted July 17, 2017.
- Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics