Boston, MA – Hearing loss is a common and under-recognized public health problem that can influence a child’s educational, psychological and social development. However, little data was available to determine whether the prevalence of hearing loss in children has changed over time until recently when researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) determined that hearing loss in adolescents has increased over the past 15 years. The findings are published in the August 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“We have known for a few years that hearing loss is very common in US adults,” said lead study author Josef Shargorodsky, MD, a physician-investigator at the Channing Laboratory at BWH. “However, an understanding of hearing loss in adolescents can help to paint a better picture of overall hearing loss in the US, and aid in further identifying potential causes of hearing loss.”
The researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys of adolescents from across the US, age 12 to 19 years old. Researchers found that currently, one out of five adolescents has some evidence of hearing loss, while one out of twenty has at least mild hearing loss. Compared to data from the survey from 1988-1994, there has been a marked 30 percent increase in prevalence of any hearing loss, and a 70 percent increase in mild or worse hearing loss in the past 15 years.
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