A new study out of two Boston hospitals shows those ages 12 to 19 are suffering hearing loss, and a UC Irvine expert who has conducted his own research believes he knows why: the use of MP3 players like iPods.
That is, Dr. Hamid Djalilian, director of Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery at UCI Medical Center in Orange, says MP3 players can be blamed for high-frequency hearing loss but not low-frequency hearing loss. The Boston studies indicate both are happening.
As Landon Hall blogs for the Orange County Register, Harvard and Vanderbilt conducted the studies showing high-frequency loss caused by damage to the inner ear increased from 12.8 percent among a group tested in the 1980s-'90s to 16.4 percent now.
Low-frequency loss associated with ear infections or congenital conditions went from 6.1 percent to 9.0 percent over the same years.
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A possible explanation for the rise in low-frequency hearing loss could be increased reliance on daycare services, where children can easily pick up viruses, Djalilian tells Hall.
The more ear infections one suffers as a kid, the more likely they are to suffer hearing loss when they get older, the doctor noted.
Vaccinations against ear infections and increased awareness of possible ear damage among young MP3 enthusiasts have spread since Apple's iPod first hit the market in 2001.
The Boston studies, which are to be published in the Aug. 18 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association, states these remedies "may have led to the expectation of no change or a reduction in the prevalence of hearing loss , but this was not observed."