Study: Secondhand Smoke Doubles Teens’ Risk of Hearing Loss

By Angela Grande
|  Tuesday, Jul 19, 2011  |  Updated 6:58 AM EDT
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Researchers at the NYU School of Medicine have detected a link between secondhand smoke, and hearing loss in people between 12 and 19 years old. This is the first study to reveal this problem in young people.

Researchers at the NYU School of Medicine have detected a link between secondhand smoke, and hearing loss in people between 12 and 19 years old. This is the first study to reveal this problem in young people.

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Doctors had already determined that second hand smoke causes hearing issues in older people as they age, but a new study shows hearing loss may begin as early as childhood.

Researchers, including study co-author, Dr. Michael Weitzman, conducted a nationwide survey of children from 12 to 19 years old.

They studied the levels of nicotine byproduct cotinine in the bloodstream.

Participants with the highest levels of cotinine were the most likely to suffer from hearing issues.

Dr. Linda Dahl, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, said, “It’s known that smoking can actually affect the small blood vessels around the cochlea, which is where hearing takes place, and permanently damage it.”

“One of the most intriguing findings in this study is that almost 80 percent of the people with hearing decreases were not aware on the face they had hearing decreasesm” Weitzman added.

Both doctors agree that after the elementary school years, children’s hearing should be tested more thoroughly than it currently is.

Based on these findings, researchers plan to now look into how hearing loss may affect behavior in school and in children's interpersonal relationships.

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