U.S. Teen Hearing Loss Up Significantly

BOSTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Twenty percent of U.S. teens suffer from hearing loss with the number jumping by about 30 percent in a decade, U.S. researchers found.

Dr. Josef Shargorodsky of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and colleagues examined two comparable databases to evaluate hearing loss among youths ages 12-19.

The databases were the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-1994 involving 2,928 participants and NHANES 2005-2006 involving 1,771 participants.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found hearing loss among youths ages 12-19 was 14.9 percent in 1988-1994 and 19.5 percent in 2005-2006 — a 31 percent increase.

The prevalence of any unilateral hearing loss was 11.1 percent in 1988-1994 and 14 percent in 2005-2006, while high-frequency hearing loss — 12.8 percent in 1988-1994 and 16.4 percent in 2005-2006 was more common than any low-frequency hearing loss 6.1 percent in 1988-1994 and 9 percent in 2005-2006.

Teens living below the poverty level was linked to higher hearing loss, but a history of three or more ear infections, firearm use, and loud noise exposure for 5 or more hours in a week were not significantly associated with any hearing loss in 2005-2006, Shargorodsky says.

“Further studies are needed to determine reasons for this increase and to identify potential modifiable risk factors to prevent the development of hearing loss,” the study authors said in a statement.

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