Background: Congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) infection is the most frequent non-genetic cause of sensorineural hearing-loss (SNHL) (i.e., hearing loss due to a cochlear and/or auditory nerve damage). It is widely accepted that SNHL at birth, when associated to cCMV symptomatic infection involving the central nervous system, benefits from antiviral therapy started in the neonatal period. Conversely, there is no consensus for antiviral treatment in congenitally infected infants diagnosed with isolated SNHL (i.e., SNHL in an otherwise asymptomatic infant) at birth. Our aim was to assess the frequency and the auditory outcome of isolated SNHL at birth due to auditory neuropathy (AN) (i.e., SNHL in a patient with normal cochlear function and auditory nerve dysfunction) in infants with cCMV infection. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the clinical history of 60 infants, born at term, with cCMV asymptomatic infection, without additional risk factors for SNHL, and exhibiting bilateral "pass" otoacustic emissions (OAE). None of them underwent antiviral therapy. Hearing thresholds were assessed by means of Auditory Brainstem Responses (ABR). AN affected children were followed up until possible normalization of the hearing thresholds or definitive diagnosis of AN. Each infant diagnosed with monolateral or bilateral AN was classified according to the worst ear threshold. Results: In our population, the first ABR was performed at a mean age of 5.00 ± 2.79 (SD) months and AN was diagnosed in 16/60 (26.67%) infants; in 4 infants the AN was defined as mild (4/4 monolateral), moderate in 11 (5/11 bilateral), and severe in 1 (bilateral). The mean age at first ABR was 3.69 ± 2.80 (SD) months in the 16 babies with AN and 5.48 ± 2.66 (SD) months in the 44 infants with normal hearing (p = 0.007). All AN cases spontaneously recovered a normal auditory threshold over time. The mean length of the audiological follow-up was 32.44 ± 17.58 (SD) months (range 5-60 months). Conclusion: A delayed maturation of the auditory pathways should be considered when a mild/moderate isolated AN at birth is detected in cCMV infected infants. Prospective studies conducted on larger populations, and with a longer audiological follow-up, are needed to confirm our findings.
- Auditory brainstem response
- Auditory neuropathy
- Congenital cytomegalovirus infection
- Otoacoustic emission
- Sensorineural hearing-loss
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health