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