Children's in the News

Children’s Minnesota Researcher Identifies a Cause of Hearing Loss for Babies in the NICU

Over the past several decades, immense improvements have been made in neonatal care so premature babies are given the best chance to survive and thrive. Today, researchers focus not only on how to improve care within the NICU, but also how to improve quality of life for babies after the NICU.

One issue is the high rate of hearing loss among infants who spent time in the NICU. The Minnesota Department of Health found hearing loss among infants in the NICU to be 10 times greater than those in standard nurseries. Preventative measures such as ear muffs, changing to light alarms and more haven’t significantly lowered the prevalence of hearing loss.

This led Dr. James Sidman, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Children’s Minnesota, to investigate potential causes of hearing loss in the NICU. His study, published in the October 2015 issue of The Laryngoscope, found that infants on ventilators are exposed to a high amount of bone-conducted noise and are at a higher risk for permanent hearing loss than babies in the NICU who are not on ventilators.

Learn more about this first of its kind research and what neonatologists are doing to help protect NICU babies from hearing loss from Dr. Sidman and Dr. Ellen Bendel-Stenzel, Children’s Minnesota neonatologist, via Minnesota Public Radio:  MN study: Hospital ventilator noise puts preemie hearing at risk.

Dr. Sidman also spoke to the Star Tribune about this study: Health beat: Minnesota doctor uncovers potential cause of deafness in preemies.