Teen Hearing Loss Connected to Secondhand Smoke Exposure

A study of 1,533 individuals ranging from 12 to 19 years old has found that children who were exposed to cigarette smoke have higher rates of hearing loss.

It is estimated that 60 percent of children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke. Women who are exposed to smoking while pregnant and children who are exposed early in their childhood are at increased risk for health problems such as low birth weight, respiratory infections, and behavioral problems. Now hearing loss can be added to that list.

Researchers in New York recently completed a study of 1,533 individuals ranging from 12 to 19 years old in which they found that children who were exposed to cigarette smoke have higher rates of hearing loss. The greater the exposure, the higher the risk. “The findings indicate that exposure to tobacco smoke is independently associated with an almost two-fold increase in the risk of hearing loss among adolescents,” Dr, Anil Lalwani and colleagues from NYU Langone Medical Center concluded.

Participants were interviewed about their health and family medical history, exposure to secondhand smoke and self-recognition of hearing impairment. They also had a physical exam that included a blood test that looked at contact with nicotine, and hearing tests.

Hearing loss early in life can cause many problems ranging from speech, language, and cognitive development and functioning. The researchers added, “These findings may have profound implications in light of the high exposure rates among adolescents in the United States.”

In regards to the inner ear, it is not completely clear how secondhand smoke affects this area in children but some believe it concerns very early parental exposure during pregnancy or early years in relation to ear infections. The investigators were also unable to determine if earlier or long-term exposure is worse that later and short-term exposure.

Around the Web

Secondhand smoke linked to teen hearing loss [CBC News]

Secondhand Smoke Exposure Increases Risk of Hearing Loss [Science Daily]