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Hearing Loss Rising Among Teen Girls, Study Finds
Date:12/28/2010

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Over the last two decades hearing loss due to "recreational" noise exposure such as blaring club music has risen among adolescent girls, and now approaches levels previously seen only among adolescent boys, a new study suggests.

And teens as a whole are increasingly exposed to loud noises that could place their long-term auditory health in jeopardy, the researchers added.

"In the '80s and early '90s young men experienced this kind of hearing damage in greater numbers, probably as a reflection . . . of what young men and young women have traditionally done for work and fun," noted study lead author Elisabeth Henderson, an M.D.-candidate in Harvard Medical School's School of Public Health in Boston.

"[This] means that boys have generally been faced with a greater degree of risk in the form of occupational noise exposure, fire alarms, lawn mowers, that kind of thing," she said. "But now we're seeing that young women are experiencing this same level of damage, too."

Henderson and her colleagues report their findings in the Dec. 27 online edition of Pediatrics.

To explore the risk for hearing damage among teens, the authors analyzed the results of audiometric testing conducted among 4,310 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19, all of whom participated in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

Comparing loud noise exposure across two periods of time (from 1988 to 1994 and from 2005 to 2006), the team determined that the degree of teen hearing loss had generally remained relatively stable. But there was one exception: teen girls.

Between the two study periods, hearing loss due to loud noise exposure had gone up among adolescent girls, from 11.6 percent to 16.7 percent -- a level that had previously been observed solely among adolescent boys.

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