The aim of this study was to investigate whether COVID-19 during pregnancy is a risk factor for congenital hearing loss.
Tertiary referral center.
Hearing screening test results of 60,223 newborns between March 2020 and May 2021 were screened using the national database. Newborn babies of 570 pregnant women with positive COVID-19 PCR test during pregnancy who met the study criteria were included in the gestational COVID-19 group, and 570 healthy newborns born in the same period were included in the control group.
Main Outcome Measure
Results of up to three automatic auditory brainstem response tests in the first 30 days of life were used for newborn hearing screening.
When the gestational COVID-19 and control groups were compared in terms of demographic data, there was no statistically significant difference for any of the variables (maternal age, gestational age, birth weight, neonate gender, mode of delivery, p > 0.05 for all variables). Of the mothers in the gestational COVID-19 group, 62 (10.9%) had COVID-19 in the first trimester, 181 (31.8%) in the second trimester, and 327 (57.3%) in the third trimester. When the first and second test results of newborn hearing screening were compared between the groups, the number of babies with hearing loss was higher in the gestational COVID-19 group than in the control group (p = 0.025; odds ratio, 1.357; 95% confidence interval, 1.039–1.774; p = 0.006; odds ratio, 4.924; 95% confidence interval, 1.410–17.193, respectively). For the third test results, hearing loss was detected in only one baby in both groups (p = 0.284). When the first, second, and third test results for newborn hearing screening were compared according to the trimesters when COVID-19 positivity was identified, the difference between trimesters was not found to be statistically significant (p > 0.05).
To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest study in the literature of the impact of COVID-19 on newborn hearing. The findings in the study suggest that gestational COVID-19 is not a risk factor for permanent congenital hearing loss. However, because the risk of detecting hearing loss is high in the first 15 days, we emphasize the importance of the third screening test.