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Ipods Led To Surge In Teen Hearing Loss

August 18, 2010

The study of thousands of 12 to 19-year-olds found the number of them suffering from partial hearing loss jumped by 30 per cent between the early 1990s and 2005-06.

The prevalence of partial hearing loss rose from 14.9 per cent to 19.5 per cent – a relative jump of almost a third, found the authors of the study, led by Dr Josef Shargorodsky, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

The incidence of slight hearing loss jumped by 77 per cent.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), also found that boys were more likely to experience hearing loss than girls.

Emma Harrison, director of public engagement at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), said: “This study highlights the widespread concern felt over the risks personal music players, together with loud music at gigs and clubs, pose to hearing.”

She said two-thirds of people who used iPods and other in-ear audio players, had used them to listen to music at louder than 85 decibels “which according to the World Health Organisation, can cause permanent hearing damage over time”.

The RNID has launched its ‘Don’t Lose the Music’ campaign to highlight the problem.

In June Dr Hannah Kempler, of Ghent University, Belgium, described such music players as “potentially damaging” after conducting a study into the short term effects on listening at high volumes.

Volunteers were asked to listen to loud music using earphones in six one-hour blocks, and their hearing assessed after each hour.

Hearing was affected after just one hour, she found, while “significant threshold shifts were observed between almost every session”.

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