Retinol and Pro-Vitamin A Carotenoid Nutritional Status during Pregnancy Is Associated with Newborn Hearing Screen Results

Rebecca Slotkowski, Matthew Van Ormer, Anum Akbar, Olivia Paetz, Taija Hahka, Maranda Thompson, Alyssa Freeman, Alexandra Hergenrader, Sarah Sweeney, Zeljka Korade, Thiago Genaro-Mattos, Corrine Hanson, Ann Anderson-Berry, Melissa Thoene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The prenatal period is critical for auditory development; thus, prenatal influences on auditory development may significantly impact long-term hearing ability. While previous studies identified a protective effect of carotenoids on adult hearing, the impact of these nutrients on hearing outcomes in neonates is not well understood. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between maternal and umbilical cord plasma retinol and carotenoid concentrations and abnormal newborn hearing screen (NHS) results. Mother–infant dyads (n = 546) were enrolled at delivery. Plasma samples were analyzed using HPLC and LC–MS/MS. NHS results were obtained from medical records. Statistical analysis utilized Mann–Whitney U tests and logistic regression models, with p ≤ 0.05 considered statistically significant. Abnormal NHS results were observed in 8.5% of infants. Higher median cord retinol (187.4 vs. 162.2 μg/L, p = 0.01), maternal trans-β-carotene (206.1 vs. 149.4 μg/L, p = 0.02), maternal cis-β-carotene (15.9 vs. 11.2 μg/L, p = 0.02), and cord trans-β-carotene (15.5 vs. 8.0 μg/L, p = 0.04) were associated with abnormal NHS. Significant associations between natural log-transformed retinol and β-carotene concentrations and abnormal NHS results remained after adjustment for smoking status, maternal age, and corrected gestational age. Further studies should investigate if congenital metabolic deficiencies, pesticide contamination of carotenoid-rich foods, maternal hypothyroidism, or other variables mediate this relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number800
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • carotenoids
  • hearing
  • neonatal
  • newborn hearing screen
  • pregnancy
  • retinol
  • β-carotene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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