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Newborn Genetic Screening for Hearing Impairment: A Preliminary Study at a Tertiary Center
Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Author: Chen-Chi Wu et al.

by Chen-Chi Wu, Chia-Cheng Hung, Shin-Yu Lin, Wu-Shiun Hsieh, Po-Nien Tsao, Chien-Nan Lee, Yi-Ning Su, Chuan-Jen Hsu

Universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS) is of paramount importance for early identification and management of hearing impairment in children. However, infants with slight/mild, progressive, or late-onset hearing impairment might be missed in conventional UNHS. To investigate whether genetic screening for common deafness-associated mutations could assist in identifying these infants, 1017 consecutive newborns in a tertiary hospital were subjected to both newborn hearing screening using a two-step distortion-product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) screening and newborn genetic screening (NGS) for deafness. The NGS targeted 4 deafness-associated mutations commonly found in the Taiwanese population, including p.V37I (c.109G>A) and c.235delC of the GJB2 gene, c.919-2A>G of the SLC26A4 gene, and mitochondrial m.1555A>G of the 12S rRNA gene. The results of the NGS were then correlated to the results of the NHS. Of the 1017 newborns, 16 (1.6%) had unilateral DPOAE screening failure, and 22 (2.2%) had bilateral DPOAE screening failure. A total of 199 (19.6%) babies were found to have at least 1 mutated allele on the NGS for deafness, 11 (1.1%) of whom were homozygous for GJB2 p.V37I, 6 (0.6%) compound heterozygous for GJB2 p.V37I and c.235delC, and 1 (0.1%) homoplasmic for m.1555A>G, who may potentially have hearing loss. Among them, 3 babies, 5 babies, and 1 baby, respectively, passed the NHS at birth. Comprehensive audiological assessments in the 9 babies at 3 months identified 1 with slight hearing loss and 2 with mild hearing loss. NGS for common deafness-associated mutations may identify infants with slight/mild or potentially progressive hearing impairment, thus compensating for the inherent limitations of the conventional UNHS.