Wideband absorbance (WBA) is an emerging technology to evaluate the conductive pathway (outer and middle ear) in young infants. While a wealth of research has been devoted to measuring WBA at ambient pressure, few studies have investigated the use of pressurized WBA with this population. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of age on WBA measured under pressurized conditions in healthy infants from 0 to 6 months of age.
Forty-four full-term healthy neonates (17 males and 27 females) participated in a longitudinal study. The neonates were assessed at 1-month intervals from 0 to 6 months of age using high-frequency tympanometry, acoustic stapedial reflex, distortion product otoacoustic emissions, and pressurized WBA. The values of WBA at tympanometric peak pressure (TPP) and 0 daPa across the frequencies from 0.25 to 8 kHz were analyzed as a function of age.
A linear mixed model analysis, applied to the data, revealed significantly different WBA patterns among the age groups. In general, WBA measured at TPP and 0 daPa decreased at low frequencies (<0.4 kHz) and increased at high frequencies (2 to 5and 8 kHz) with age. Specifically, WBA measured at TPP and 0 daPa in 3- to 6-month-olds was significantly different from that of 0- to 2-month-olds at low (0.25 to 0.31 kHz) and high (2 to 5 and 8 kHz) frequencies. However, there were no significant differences between WBA measured at TPP and 0 daPa for infants from 3 to 6 months of age.
The present study provided clear evidence of maturation of the outer and middle ear system in healthy infants from birth to 6 months. Therefore, age-specific normative data of pressurized WBA are warranted.