Dr Tammy Brinsmead1, Ms Melanie Dowling2, Ms Lynne Cruden1
2John Hunter Children’s Hospital Department of Audiology, New Lambton Heights, Australia,
3University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia
Hearing impairment is a complication of extreme prematurity. It is twice as common after birth before 25 weeks gestation(1). In 2007-2012, 7.7% of John Hunter Children’s Hospital Neonatal Unit (JHCHNU) infants <29 weeks or <1000g required hearing aids or cochlear implants. This was three times the state average of 2.6%.
- To determine if differences in referral pathways resulted in more John Hunter Children’s Hospital Network (JHCHN) patients receiving aids or implants.
- To establish if the distribution of extremely premature infants in NSW/ACT accounted for increased hearing impairment in JHCHNU infants.
- To assess if hearing outcomes in JHCHNU improved in 2013-15.
- JHCHN infants born 2007-2015 and fitted with aids or implants were stratified by audible decibels (dB) and gestational age.
- The incidence of aids or implants in JHCHNU and all NSW/ACT infants was compared for the two time periods.
- JHCHN referred to Australian Hearing at 20-25dB, in contrast to 30dB in the other two districts. All JHCHN infants fitted with aids or implants had thresholds ≥ 30dB.
- 29/144 (20%) of <25 week NSW/ACT infants were admitted at JHCHNU. In 2007-2012 at JHCHNU, 4/21 (19%) of hearing impaired infants <28 weeks or <1000g were born before 25 weeks gestation. In NSW/ACT in the same period, 10/44 (23%) of hearing impaired extremely premature or extremely low birth weight babies were <25 weeks gestation.
- In 2013-2015 at JHCHNU, 5/201 (2.5%) babies <28 weeks or <1000g required aids or implants. None of these was less than 25 weeks gestation.
The high incidence of hearing impairment in JHCHNU from 2009-2012 was not explained by referral pathways or gestational age. Aids and implants were less common in the subsequent three years.
- Report of the Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network 2016
Tammy qualified as a neonatologist in 2011 and is currently a fellow at John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle.