Teen Hearing Loss on the Rise

Is it too late for the iPod generation to reverse this trend? A new study reveals a rapid rise in hearing loss among teenagers over the last 20 years. According to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 14.9 percent of adolescents reported hearing loss from 1988 to 1995, but that number spiked to 19.5 percent in 2005 and 2006. The study was not designed to examine the causes of hearing loss, but researchers speculate that noise pollution from increasingly present devices like iPods are to blame. “People underestimate noise exposure,” said one coauthor of the study, adding that teenagers were likely to report the same amount of noise exposure regardless of their actual hearing loss. Other contributing factors included poor diet and medical care. Children from families below the poverty line, the study found, were even more likely to experience hearing loss.