Expert Commentary

Change in prevalence of hearing loss in adolescents

Study by researchers from Harvard, Vanderbilt and Brigham and Women's Hospital on the rate of hearing loss among U.S. adolescents.

Hearing loss in the United States has been shown to be on the rise — a 2008 survey found that 35 million Americans suffer from the partial or complete loss of the ability to hear. While some of this is due to the  aging of the baby boomer generation, hearing loss among younger Americans has also increased.

A 2010 study by researchers from Harvard University and Vanderbilt University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Change in Prevalence of Hearing Loss in U.S. Adolescents,” finds that the rate of hearing loss among U.S. adolescents has risen sharply in the past three decades.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,finds that:

  • About one in every five Americans ages between 12 and 19 years old were found to experience some hearing loss in 2005-2006. This proportion was about 30% higher compared to the prevalence rate in 1988-1994.
  • Teens from families living below the poverty line are more likely to suffer hearing loss.
  • Males are significantly more likely to experience hearing loss compared to females.
  • No significant difference in the prevalence of hearing loss by age or race/ethnicity.

The researchers note that hearing loss by adolescents can have significant implications on speech perception, self-image, social skills development and learning.

Prolonged exposure to loud music could be an important determinant to this rise in hearing loss, the researchers state. They suggest further research to determine other contributory factors as well as policies to mitigate the worsening of hearing loss among the young.

Tags: safety, technology, youth, poverty

About The Author