December 28, 2010

Hearing Loss In Teenage Girls On The Rise

While boys have traditionally been more likely to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss, a study set to be published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics suggests that teenage girls are rapidly closing the gap.

According to Daniel J. DeNoon of WebMD Health News, the study shows that, between 2005 and 2008, 16.7% of girls and 17.7% of boys suffered from hearing loss by the age of 19. Those figures represent a slight decrease in hearing loss among teenage males, they also mark a 5% increase in hearing loss in teenage females, DeNoon reports.

Elisabeth Henderson of Harvard Medical School (HMS) and her colleagues also discovered that the percentage of teens who reported listening to loud music within a 24 hour period had increased from 20 percent in the late 1980s/early 1990s to 35 percent more recently, according to Alison McCook of Reuters Health. That would seem to suggest that MP3 players may be at least partially to blame.

However, Dr. Peter Rabinowitz of Yale University told McCook that it was too early to tell whether or not portable music players were to blame. "This study does not totally prove that loud music is causing hearing damage in kids," he said, adding that the increased percentage of teens losing their hearing was cause for concern and that the medical community "should be doing something to prevent it."

A total of 4,310 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 participated in the study. Each of the subjects completed audiometric testing during National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys in 1988"“1994 and 2005"“2006, according to Henderson and colleagues.

Along with Henderson, Dr. Marcia A. Testa of the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Biostatistics and Dr. Christopher Hartnick of the HMS Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, are credited as co-authors of the paper, which is entitled "Prevalence of Noise-Induced Hearing-Threshold Shifts and Hearing Loss Among US Youths."


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