The Association between Prenatal Nicotine Exposure and Offspring's Hearing Impairment

Erin M. Cleary, Douglas A. Kniss, Lida M. Fette, Brenna L. Hughes, George R. Saade, Mara J. Dinsmoor, Uma M. Reddy, Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, Michael W. Varner, William H. Goodnight, Alan T.N. Tita, Geeta K. Swamy, Kent D. Heyborne, Edward K. Chien, Suneet P. Chauhan, Yasser Y. El-Sayed, Brian M. Casey, Samuel Parry, Hyagriv N. Simhan, Peter G. Napolitano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective  The objective of this study is to evaluate whether there is an association between in-utero exposure to nicotine and subsequent hearing dysfunction. Patients and Methods  Secondary analysis of a multicenter randomized trial to prevent congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection among gravidas with primary CMV infection was conducted. Monthly intravenous immunoglobulin hyperimmune globulin therapy did not influence the rate of congenital CMV. Dyads with missing urine, fetal or neonatal demise, infants diagnosed with a major congenital anomaly, congenital CMV infection, or with evidence of middle ear dysfunction were excluded. The primary outcome was neonatal hearing impairment in one or more ears defined as abnormal distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs; 1 to 8 kHz) that were measured within 42 days of birth. DPOAEs were interpreted using optimized frequency-specific level criteria. Cotinine was measured via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits in maternal urine collected at enrollment and in the third trimester (mean gestational age 16.0 and 36.7 weeks, respectively). Blinded personnel ran samples in duplicates. Maternal urine cotinine >5 ng/mL at either time point was defined as in-utero exposure to nicotine. Multivariable logistic regression included variables associated with the primary outcome and with the exposure (p < 0.05) in univariate analysis. Results  Of 399 enrolled patients in the original trial, 150 were included in this analysis, of whom 46 (31%) were exposed to nicotine. The primary outcome occurred in 18 (12%) newborns and was higher in nicotine-exposed infants compared with those nonexposed (15.2 vs. 10.6%, odds ratio [OR] 1.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.55-4.20), but the difference was not significantly different (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.0, 95% CI 0.30-3.31). This association was similar when exposure was stratified as heavy (>100 ng/mL, aOR 0.72, 95% CI 0.15-3.51) or mild (5-100 ng/mL, aOR 1.28, 95% CI 0.33-4.95). There was no association between nicotine exposure and frequency-specific DPOAE amplitude. Conclusion  In a cohort of parturients with primary CMV infection, nicotine exposure was not associated with offspring hearing dysfunction assessed with DPOAEs. Key Points Nicotine exposure was quantified from maternal urine. Nicotine exposure was identified in 30% of the cohort. Exposure was not associated with offspring hearing dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • neonatal hearing impairment
  • newborn hearing screening
  • prenatal nicotine exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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