The Burden of Hearing loss and its associated factors in Neonates admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit at Mulago Hospital.
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Introduction: The estimated prevalence of hearing loss (HL) in neonates worldwide is 1-6 per 1000 live births and it is most prevalent in developing countries. Hearing loss is even much more prevalent in neonates admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), with a prevalence of 2-5 for every 100 neonates. Hearing loss in these neonates affects their speech and language development and this will eventually affects their communication, education as well as socioeconomic opportunities later in life. There is limited data on the burden of HL and its associated factors in neonates admitted to the NICU in Uganda. Objective: To determine the burden of hearing loss and the factors associated with it in neonates admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) of Mulago National Referral Hospital (MNRH). Methods: This was a cross-sectional study conducted in the SCBU at MNRH. Consecutive sampling was employed to recruit the neonates aged 1-28 days who were due for discharge. Data on demographics and factors associated with HL was collected. Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) and Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) tests were performed on them. Results: Four hundred neonates were enrolled in the study, 213 (57.8%) were male and 169 (42.2%) female. The prevalence of HL based on the failure of the AABR test at discharge was 26.3%. Bilateral HL was 9.8% and unilateral HL was 16.5%. The factors associated with HL were: very low birth weight, low birth weight, more than 7 days stay in the unit, craniofacial malformations, and jaundice. Conclusions: The prevalence of hearing loss in neonates being discharged from the Special Care Baby Unit at MNRH is high (26.3%) and the factors that were strongly associated with it were, low birth weight (less than 2500g), prolonged stay in the unit (more than 7days) and presence of jaundice at admission to the unit. We recommend routine screening of all neonates born in Uganda but most especially those that are admitted to the SCBU and those with multiple risk factors for hearing loss