Newborn hearing screening failure and maternal factors during pregnancy

Yehuda Schwarz, Gabriel N. Kaufman, Sam J. Daniel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Temporary conductive hearing loss due to amniotic fluid accumulation in the middle ear cavity may lead to failure (false positive) in newborn hearing screening tests. The aim of this study was to identify whether amniotic fluid index has association with failure of the initial newborn otoacoustic emission (OAE) screening test. Methods A cohort study in a tertiary hospital center (Royal Victoria Hospital, Montréal) was constructed from 70 newborns that failed the OAE test, but passed a subsequent auditory brainstem response (ABR) test, and 75 randomly selected newborns that passed initial otoacoustic emission testing. Maternal (including the amniotic fluid index in the third trimester) and newborn clinical data were extracted from medical records. Statistical association models were built to determine variables that influenced hearing screen passage or failure. Results The two arms of the cohort had no significant differences in maternal or child clinical indices, including in amniotic fluid index. Calculated as individual odds ratios, maternal tobacco [95% CI of odds ratio: 0.04, 0.59, p = 0.0078], and drug use [95% CI of odds ratio: 0.0065, 0.72, p = 0.058] [borderline significance] were associated with failing the otoacoustic emission testing. Conclusions Amniotic fluid index was not found to be associated with failure of otoacoustic emission screening in newborns. However, our study unveiled an interesting unexpected association of OAE failure with maternal smoking and/or drug use. This finding can help alleviate some of the time, cost and parental anxiety related to failed OAE screening. In selected cases of maternal smoking or drug use we might want to replace or add OAE to the ABR test in newborn hearing screening protocols, that don't perform both tests before discharge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-70
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Amniotic fluid index
  • Newborn
  • Otoacoustic emission
  • Smoking


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