TUESDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The number of U.S. teenagers experiencing hearing loss increased about 30 percent from 1988 to 2006, so that one in five teens now has lost some hearing, researchers report.
"This is a sobering" finding, said Paul R. Kileny, professor and director of audiology and electrophysiology at the University of Michigan Health System, who was not involved in the study.
The hearing loss among teens, Kileny said, is not due to increased exposure to loud noises or the prolonged use of some medications "because they [teens] are way too young to manifest the effects of this exposure or of age-related hearing loss."
Instead, he said, the loss can probably be "traced back to lifestyle and habits, and for the most part, it's very likely associated with the increased use of portable MP3 devices."
For the study, researchers led by Dr. Josef Shargorodsky, from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, collected data on 2,928 adolescents who took part in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which ran from 1988 to 1994.
They compared these teenagers with 1,771 teens who took part in the same survey from 2005 to 2006.
Among the first group of teens, 14.9 percent had some hearing loss in at least one ear. However, among teens in the more recent study, that number had jumped to 19.5 percent, representing about 6.5 million adolescents -- an increase of 31 percent, the researchers found.
Most of the hearing loss was slight and probably would not be noticed by the teens. In addition, in 2005-2006 most of the hearing loss was confined to the high frequencies (16.4 percent). Only 9 percent of the teens had low-frequency hearing loss, Shargorodsky's team noted.
In addition, hearing loss was mostly in one ear (11.1 percent in 1988-1994 and 14 percent in 2005-2006). Hearing loss in both ears was 3.8 percent in the earli
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