A long-term follow-up study on otoacoustic emissions testing in paediatric patients with severe malaria in Gabon.

24 Jun 2019
Reiterer E, Reider S, Lackner P, Fischer N, Dejaco D, Riechelmann H, Zorowka P, Kremsner PG, Adegnika AA, Schmutzhard E, Schmutzhard J


In a previous study, severe and cerebral malaria have been connected with acute cochlear malfunction in children, demonstrated by a decrease of transitory evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAEs) reproducibility. This study aims to determine whether cochlear malfunction persists for 4 years after recovery from severe malaria in a subset of the previous study's collective. Follow-up TEOAEs were performed on site (CERMEL, Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, Lambaréné, Gabon) or at the participants' homes; 33 out of 90 participants included in the initial investigation by Schmutzhard et al. could be retrieved and were re-examined, 31/33 could be included. Of the 57 missing participants, 51 could not be contacted, 1 had moved away, 4 refused to cooperate, and 1 had died.


As in the initial investigation, participants of this prospective follow-up study were subjected to TEOAE examination on both ears separately. A wave correlation rate of > 60% on both ears was considered a "pass"; if one ear failed to pass, the examination was considered a "fail". The results were compared to the primary control group. Additionally, a questionnaire has been applied focusing on subsequent malaria infections between the primary inclusion and follow-up and subjective impairment of hearing and/or understanding.


The cohort's mean age was 9 years, 14 children were female, 18 male. 31 had been originally admitted with severe, one with cerebral malaria. 83.8% of participants (n = 26) presented with a TEOAE correlation rate of > 60% on both ears (the cut-off for good cochlear function); in the control group, 92.2% (n = 83) had passed TEOAE examination on both ears. Recurrent severe malaria was associated with a worse TEOAE correlation rate. Age at infection and gender had no influence on the outcome.


Cochlear malfunction seems to be persistent after 4 years in more than 16% of children hospitalized for malaria. In a healthy control group, this proportion was 7.8%. Yet, the severity of the initial TEOAE-decrease did not predict a worse outcome.