Congenital Zika virus infection may be associated with sensorineural hearing loss, according to the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the CDC.
“In the majority of cases of hearing loss associated with congenital viral infection, the damage to the auditory system is within the cochlea,” wrote the authors of the MMWR, led by Mariana C. Leal, PhD of the Hospital Agamenon Magalhães in Recife, Brazil. “It is likely that similar lesions account for the hearing deficit in children with congenital Zika virus infection” (MMWR. 2016 Aug 30.65:1-4)
Full auditory function evaluations were performed on 70 children born with microcephaly, all of whom had confirmed laboratory evidence of congenital Zika virus. One child with bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss was excluded because the child had already received treatment with amikacin (a known ototoxic antibiotic) prior to evaluation for this study. All children were ages 0-10 months; investigators defined Zika-associated microcephaly as head circumference of 32 cm or lower at birth. Gestational ages at birth ranged from 37 weeks to 1 day shy of 42 weeks.
Of the 69 children included for analysis, four (5.8%) were found to have sensorineural hearing loss with no other potential cause, which the investigators noted is “within the range (6%-65%) reported for other congenital viral infections.” The investigators also stated that the auditory issues were mainly evident in children whose mothers experienced a rash illness during the first trimester of their pregnancy.
“Children with evidence of congenital Zika virus infection who have normal initial screening tests should receive regular follow-up, because onset of hearing loss associated with other congenital viral infections can be delayed and the loss can be progressive,” the authors noted.
No disclosures or funding sources were reported.