Kernicterus, the severe complication of erythroblastosis fetalis, is thought to be the cause of deafness when the latter is observed in association with hemorrhagic disease in the newborn. A number of publications have reported on damage done to the cochlear pathways during the process of deposition of pigment. These findings were obtained by postmortem examination of the brain, the first ones half a century before clinical experience associated deafness with erythroblastosis fetalis.
Gerrard, in 1952, pointed out the absence of any recorded case where a child with kernicterus, and known to have been deaf, had come to autopsy and this cause of deafness had been verified under the microscope. He was the first to submit to histological examination the cochlea in two cases of kernicterus who died during the neonatal period. The peripheral organs were revealed as normal, but extensive destruction of the nerve cells in the cochlear nuclei was
GEORGE KELEMEN. Erythroblastosis FetalisPathologic Report on the Hearing Organs of a Newborn Infant. AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1956;63(4):392–398. doi:10.1001/archotol.1956.03830100050013