Factors Associated With Hearing Impairment in Patients With Congenital Hypothyroidism Treated Since the Neonatal Period: A National Population-Based Study

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Abstract

Context:

Untreated hypothyroidism is known to impair hearing, but little is known about the long-term hearing of patients treated for congenital hypothyroidism (CH) since the neonatal period.

Objective:

The purpose of this study was to assess hearing and its determinants in a population-based registry of young adult patients with CH.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

Self-declared hearing loss was evaluated in 1202 of the 1748 eligible patients with CH who completed a questionnaire on health status at a median age of 23.4 years. Audiograms were obtained for one third of the patients declaring hearing loss (37 of 107).

Main Outcome Measures:

Self-declared hearing loss and audiogram characteristics for patients reporting hearing impairment were measured.

Results:

These patients had a risk of self-declared hearing loss more than 3 times higher than that for the reference population (relative risk [RR] = 3.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.9–4.7). Hearing impairment was diagnosed at a median age of 7.0 (25th–75th percentiles, 3.4–19.0) years, and 17% of affected patients required hearing support in early adulthood. Hearing loss was associated with the type of CH (patients with athyreosis and gland in situ were more frequently affected than those with an ectopic gland [RR = 2.61; 95% CI, 1.77–3.88]), with disease severity, as assessed by bone maturation delay at the time of diagnosis, with at least one knee epiphyseal ossification center absent in the most severe form (RR = 2.29; 95% CI, 1.39–3.79), and with other associated chronic diseases (RR = 3.64; 95% CI, 2.35–5.62). A trend for association with serum free T4 concentration at diagnosis was also observed (RR = 1.47; 95% CI, 0.96–2.23). Hearing loss was mostly bilateral (90%), mild to moderate (96%), of the sensorineural type (76%), and concerned high or very high frequencies.

Conclusion:

Despite major improvements in prognosis, hearing loss remains a significant problem, particularly in patients with severe CH. Parents and primary care providers should be aware of this risk, because early diagnosis and intervention could improve the long-term prognosis in these patients.

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