Butcher E, Dezateux C, Knowles RL.

BMJ (2020) PG 187-189

Objective While several perinatal risk factors for permanent childhood hearing impairment (PCHI) are known, association with gestational length remains unclear. We hypothesised that shorter gestational length predicts higher PCHI risk.

Design 19 504 participants from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (born 2000–2002, prior to newborn screening).

Methods Multivariable discrete-time survival analysis to examine associations between parent-reported PCHI by age 11 years and gestational length, plus other prespecified factors.

Results PCHI affected 2.1 per 1000 children (95% CI 1.5 to 3.0) by age 11; however, gestational length did not predict PCHI risk (HR, 95% CI 1.00, 0.98 to 1.03 per day increase). Risk was increased in those with neonatal illness, with or without admission to neonatal care (6.33, 2.27 to 17.63 and 2.62, 1.15 to 5.97, respectively), of Bangladeshi or Pakistani ethnicity (2.78, 1.06 to 7.31) or born to younger mothers (0.92, 0.87 to 0.97 per year).

Conclusion Neonatal illness, rather than gestational length, predicts PCHI risk. Further research should explore associations with ethnicity.