Association of Audiometric Measures with plasma long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in a high-fish eating population: The Seychelles Child Development Study

Mark Orlando, Adam Dziorny, Tanzy Love, Donald Harrington, Conrad Shamlaye, Gene Watson, Edwin van Wijngaarden, Grazyna Zareba, Philip Davidson, Maria S Mulhern, Emeir M. McSorley, Alison J. Yeates, Sean Strain, Gary Myers

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Objectives: To determine if auditory function is associated with current long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) concentrations in a cohort of young adults who consume oceanic fish with naturally acquired methylmercury (MeHg). We measured participants plasma LCPUFA concentrations (total n-3, total n-6 and the n-6:n-3 ratio) and looked for an association with Auditory Brain Response (ABR) latencies and Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) amplitudes. Design: Auditory function of 534 participants from the Seychelles Child Development Study (SCDS) main cohort was examined at 19 years of age. Tests included standard pure-tone audiometry, tympanometry, ABR and both Click-Evoked OAE (CEOAE) and Distortion-Product OAE (DPOAE). Associations of LCPUFA status, measured at the time of examination, and auditory outcomes were examined using covariate-adjusted linear regression models. All models were adjusted for sex, prenatal and current MeHg exposure and hearing status. Results: LCPUFA concentrations were similar for both sexes and when comparing participants with normal hearing (90.4 %) to those who had a sensorineural hearing loss in one or both ears (9.6 %). When looking at a subset of only hearing impaired participants, LCPUFA concentrations were similar in those participants who had a mild sensorineural hearing loss as compared with participants that had a moderate sensorineural hearing loss. LCPUFA concentrations were not correlated with current hair MeHg. LCPUFA concentrations were statistically significantly associated with only 6 of 174 ABR and OAE endpoints examined. Four of the 6 significant associations were present in only one sex. In female participants as n-6 concentrations increased, the ABR wave I absolute latency increased for a 60 dBnHL 19 click/sec stimulus. For male participants the interwave I-III latencies for a 60 dBnHL 69 clicks/sec stimulus increased as the n-6:n-3 LCPUFA ratio increased and the interwave I-V interval decreased for a 60 dBnHL 39 clicks/sec stimulus as the n-6 concentration increased. For both sexes interwave latencies were prolonged for the III-V interwave interval for an 80 dBnHL 39 clicks/sec as n-3 LCPUFA concentration increased. As the n-3 LCPUFA concentrations increased, the amplitude of the 6000 Hz DPOAE in the right ear increased for both sexes. As the n-6:n-3 ratio increased, the amplitude of the 1500 Hz DPOAE in the left ear decreased for females. The amplitude of the CEOAE was not associated with n-3, n-6 LCPUFA concentrations or the n-6:n-3 ratio. Conclusion: There was no evidence to suggest LCPUFA status was associated with hearing acuity, ABR latencies or OAE amplitudes, even though our participants tended to have higher LCPUFA concentrations as compared to individuals consuming a more western diet. No association was observed between LCPUFA status and a participants hearing status (normal hearing or hearing loss). Although we found a few associations between current plasma LCPUFA status and ABR and OAE auditory endpoints examined, no clear pattern exists. Some of these associations would be considered detrimental resulting in prolonged ABR latencies or smaller OAE amplitudes, while others would be considered beneficial resulting in shortened ABR latencies or larger OAE amplitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-144
Number of pages8
Early online date23 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Mar 2020


  • Auditory brainstem responses
  • Fish consumption
  • Long Chain LCPUFA
  • Otoacoustic emission
  • Seychelles child development study


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