Brainstem auditory evoked responses in severely malnourished children


  • Shashi Kant Dhir Department of Pediatrics, Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, Punjab, India
  • Meenal Batta Department of Physiology, Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, Punjab, India



Severe Malnutrition, Brainstem auditory evoked response


Background: Severe malnutrition is a common morbidity among children living in slums. The malnutrition affects the development of neural pathways depending on its duration and severity. The effects on both the peripheral and central nervous system by severe malnutrition can be shown using Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER). The objective of the study was to provide an electrophysiological evidence of effect of severe malnutrition specifically on auditory pathways in brain.

Methods: This study was an observational case control study done in Physiology department of a Government Medical College in north India. This study was done over a period of six months. Thirty children each in the age group of 2-5 years having severe malnutrition (as per WHO classification, Z-score cut-off point of <-3 SD) were taken as cases and thirty age matched children without malnutrition were taken as controls. BAER was done using standard procedures.

Results: Thirty cases and controls each were taken for the study. The mean age of the children in months was 3.18 ± 0.85 and 3.20 ± 0.85 in cases and controls respectively The latencies of all the waves of BAER were found to be significantly increased in children with severe malnutrition as compared to controls (p value <0.05 in all of them). The interpeak latencies of wave I-III and I-V were also found to be increased significantly.

Conclusions: The severe malnutrition leads to the auditory function changes detectable by delayed brainstem auditory evoked responses. These changes could be attributed to defects in myelination in the neural tissue of the auditory pathway.


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