Little boy has hearing impairment

Learn what our own Dr. Fligor found in a pediatric study

How many new cases of sensorineural hearing loss appear in patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernias (CDH), and what drives the risk? Our own Dr. Brian Fligor, audiologist-in-chief and president here at Tobias & Battite, explored these crucial questions with fellow researchers in a 2014-released study. The answers may help support prevention and other efforts.


Diaphragmatic hernias, irregular diaphragm openings that allow abdominal organs like the stomach and intestines to protrude into the chest cavity, typically occur during fetal development but can arise later through injury or surgery. Congenital occurrences affect about 0.8 to 5 of every 10,000 births and can require critical care.


CDH has been associated with sensorineural hearing loss. Generally involving damage to the inner ear, the hearing nerve, or the sound-transmitting hair cells of the ear’s cochlea, sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of loss and often originates with excess noise exposure, but family history, the aging process, or certain medications can also contribute.

In the study, “Sensorineural Hearing Loss in Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Survivors Is Associated With Postnatal Management and Not Defect Size,” Dr. Fligor and his coauthors reviewed Boston Children’s Hospital data spanning the period 2000 to 2011. In analyzing clinical and audiologic information, the investigators found that:

  • Incidence (rate of new cases in a given period) of SNHL was comparatively low among the hospital’s patients with CDH when contrasted with past “reports in the literature.”
  • Sensorineural hearing loss wasn’t linked to the hernia’s size or the necessity of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (life-support procedure for heart/lung functioning).
  • Extended treatment with the aminoglycoside class of antibiotics “increases the risk of SNHL independent of defect size and duration of ventilation.”


Though CDH can be addressed through prompt medical attention, such as surgery — some reported survival rates reach well into high percentages — associated complications can present ongoing challenges to quality of life. The quest to understand and address connections to hearing loss can provide help and hope.


Do you or a loved one have a medical history involving CDH? Have you had trouble hearing, or has it been a while since your last hearing checkup? We recommend regular hearing evaluations and offer convenient appointments for the whole family. So don’t wait. Contact us to book your visit today. Our expert team is HEAR to help!

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