Objectives. To establish the incidence of sensorineural hearing loss in children who survived non–Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) bacterial meningitis, to highlight the actual percentage whose hearing was evaluated, and to develop a prediction rule to identify those who are at risk of hearing loss.
Methods. In 1999, we compiled a cohort of 628 school-aged children who were born between January 1986 and December 1994 and had survived non-Hib bacterial meningitis between January 1990 and December 1995. Presence of sensorineural hearing loss (>25 dB) was determined, based on information from questionnaires and medical records. Potential risk factors for hearing loss were obtained from medical records; independent predictors were identified using multivariate logistic regression analysis, leading to the formulation of a prediction rule.
Results. The incidence of hearing loss was 7%. The hearing of 68% of the children was evaluated as part of their routine follow-up after bacterial meningitis, resulting in the detection of 75% of the cases of hearing loss. The remaining 25% were detected after this follow-up had ended. Using a prediction rule based on 5 factors—duration of symptoms before admission >2 days, absence of petechiae, cerebrospinal fluid glucose level ≤0.6 mmol/L, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and ataxia—62% of the postmeningitic children were selected as being at risk. All cases of hearing loss were in this at-risk group.
Conclusions. Hearing loss can be predicted satisfactorily. When the hearing of children who are predicted to be at risk is tested as part of their routine follow-up, no children with hearing loss need be missed.