Infants who undergo heart surgery found to be at significantly increased risk of hearing loss

A study published in The Journal of Pediatrics has found that children who had undergone heart surgery when they were infants were at a higher risk for hearing loss, together with associated risks for language, attention, and cognitive problems, when they turned four years old.

  • A team of researchers looked at the incidence of hearing loss after heart surgery in infancy through an observational study of neurodevelopmental results in preschool-aged children who had undergone infant surgery for congenital heart defects at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
  • The study included 348 children who had a comprehensive neurodevelopmental evaluation at age four from 2003 to 2008.
  • The findings of the study revealed that 21.6 percent or 75 children had hearing loss.
  • In addition, children with hearing loss had lower scores on evaluations of language skills, cognition, and executive function and attention.
  • The researchers suggest that children who have had heart surgery to get their hearing checked by age two to two and a half years old because early detection and treatment can reduce further problems in neurodevelopment.
  • They also note the factors that potentially contribute to hearing loss in their patients such as high-frequency noises in intensive care units and exposure to medications with side effects that damage hearing. However, the study did not directly evaluate these potential risk factors.

In conclusion, the findings of the study indicate that children who had undergone heart surgery when they were babies are 20 times more prone to hearing loss in comparison to the one percent prevalence seen in the general population.

For the full text of the study, go to this link.

Journal Reference:

Madison A. Grasty, Richard F. Ittenbach, Carol Knightly, Cynthia B. Solot, Marsha Gerdes, Judy C. Bernbaum, Gil Wernovsky, Thomas L. Spray, Susan C. Nicolson, Robert R. Clancy, Daniel J. Licht, Elaine Zackai, J. William Gaynor, Nancy B. Burnham. HEARING LOSS AFTER CARDIAC SURGERY IN INFANCY: AN UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE OF LIFE-SAVING CARE. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2018; 192 (144). DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.09.049

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