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Teen Hearing Loss Jumps 30%

"We're on the front edge of an epidemic," says researcher.

Teen hearing loss has increased about 30 percent, and now affects about one in five U.S. kids ages 12-19, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

The study compared data in two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. The first, conducted from 1988-1994, included information on 2,928 teens. The second, conducted from 2005-2006, surveyed 1,771 teens.

Researchers found that the prevalence of any hearing loss among 12- to 19-year olds was 14.9 percent in 1988-1994 and 19.5 percent in 2005-2006, a jump of 30.9 percent. The prevalence of hearing loss in both ears climbed from 3.8 percent to 5.5 percent, an increase of 45 percent.

According to study co-author Roland Eavey, MD, “What we're seeing is a big jump in the prevalence of hearing loss in a very short period of time, in less than one generation. That means we're on the front edge of an epidemic." The research team, mainly from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA, cited exposure to loud music as one reason for the increase.

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