The prevalence of hearing loss among US adolescents has risen by about 30% from 1988 – 1994 as compared to 2005 – 2006, according to the results of 2 nationally representative surveys reported in the August 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
These cross-sectional analyses used US representative demographic and audiometric data from 2928 participants 12 to 19 years of age. In 1988 – 1994, the prevalence of any hearing loss was 14.9%. This number rose significantly by 31% to 19.5% in 2005 – 2006.
The study found that girls were significantly less likely than boys to have any hearing loss. Odds of hearing loss were significantly greater in participants from families below the federal poverty threshold than in participants from families above the federal poverty threshold. The study also found that adolescents with a history of 3 or more ear infections, firearm use, or loud noise exposure for at least 5 hours weekly were not significantly associated with any hearing loss.
The reason for this increase in hearing loss was not evident in the study. One researcher suggested, “Some risk factors, such as loud sound exposure from music listening, may be of particular importance to adolescents.” Further study is needed to determine the causes of this studies findings.
J. Kyle Mathews, MD
Plano OBGyn Associates
Plano Urogynecology Associates