Risk factors for hearing loss from meningitis in children: The Children's Hospital experience

Academic Article


  • Objectives: To identify statistically significant risk factors for hearing loss in children with meningitis, determine the overall incidence of hearing loss in a large group of children with confirmed meningitis, and quantify the percentage of children with progressive or fluctuating hearing loss after meningitis. Design: Retrospective analysis. Patients and Other Participants: Four hundred thirty-two children admitted to the Children's Hospital, Birmingham, Ala, from January 1, 1985, to December 31, 1995, with the diagnosis of meningitis. Results: Of 432 children with meningitis, 59 (13.7%) had the development of hearing loss. Of these 59 children, 46 (78.0%) had stable sensorineural hearing loss and 13 (22.0%) had either progressive or fluctuating hearing loss. Of the variables examined using multiple logistic regression backward-elimination modeling, only 5 appeared to be significantly associated with the development of hearing loss: computed tomographic scan evidence of increased intracranial pressure (estimated odds ratio [OR] = 2.3), male sex (OR = 1.9), the common logarithm of glucose levels in the cerebrospinal fluid (OR = 0.58), Streptococcus pneumoniae as the causative organism (OR = 2.1), and the presence of nuchal rigidity (OR = 1.9). In the children with progressive hearing loss, the time for progression varied from 3 months to 4 years before hearing stabilized. Conclusions: In this study of children diagnosed as having meningitis, hearing loss developed in 59 (13.7%). Forty-six (78.0%) of these children with hearing loss had stable auditory thresholds over time, and 13 (22.0%) exhibited deterioration or fluctuation of acuity over time. Evidence of increased intracranial pressure by computed tomographic scan, male sex, low glucose levels in the patients' cerebrospinal fluid, S pneumoniae as the causative organism, and the presence of nuchal rigidity appear to be significant predictors for future hearing loss.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Woolley AL; Kirk KA; Neumann AM; McWilliams SM; Murray J; Freind D; Wiatrak BJ
  • Start Page

  • 509
  • End Page

  • 514
  • Volume

  • 125
  • Issue

  • 5