Hearing loss on rise among teenage girls

Hearing loss on rise among teenage girls

Hearing tests conducted on a national sample of teenage girls and boys showed that now roughly 17 per cent—or one in six—of teens of both sexes have hearing losses that can make it harder for them to hear speech and some high-pitched sounds. “The girls have kind of just caught up with boys,” study author Elisabeth Henderson of Harvard Medical School in Boston said.

The study, published on Tuesday in Pediatrics, did not determine the cause of the hearing loss in girls, but one possibility, Henderson suggested, is that they are getting exposed to more loud noises.

Traditionally, boys were more likely to be exposed to loud noises from leaf-blowers, firearms, or work machines, Henderson noted—but today, more and more teens have portable music players, and both sexes are listening to loud music from headphones.

Indeed, the authors found that the percentage of teens who said they had listened to loud music through headphones in the last 24 hours increased from 20 per cent in the late 1980s and early 1990s to 35 per cent in more recent years.

The kids who reported recent exposures were no more likely to show signs of hearing loss, but it’s still possible that this increase in portable loud music is having an effect, perhaps explaining why girls have caught up to boys’ levels of hearing loss, Henderson said in an interview.

“We are seeing a lot more kids being exposed to music recreationally,” she noted.

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