Aim: To examine brainstem auditory function and detect any abnormality at term in preterm infants after neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
Methods: Brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) was recorded at 21/sec and 60 dB nHL in 37 preterm infants who had NEC. The data obtained at term equivalent age were analyzed and compared with those in normal term infants.
Results: The threshold of BAER in infants after NEC, though slightly elevated, did not differ significantly from that in the controls. The latencies of waves I and III were slightly longer than in the controls, without any statistical significance. However, wave V latency was prolonged and differed significantly from the controls (p < 0.01). I-V interpeak interval was also prolonged (p < 0.05). The data point distribution of wave V latency and I-V interval was higher in the infants after NEC than in the controls. The amplitudes of BAER wave components in the infants after NEC did not differ significantly from those in the controls.
Conclusion: Preterm infants after NEC have no major abnormality in peripheral auditory function. However, neural conduction in the brainstem auditory pathway is abnormal, suggesting that NEC adversely affects brainstem auditory conduction.