A new study out of Harvard Medical School and published in the journal Pediatrics indicates that teenage women have a higher incidence of hearing loss.
The “Prevalence of Noise-Induced Hearing-Threshold Shifts and Hearing Loss Among US Youths” by Henderson, Testa, and Hartnick looked at trends in noise-induced threshold shifts (NITSs), high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL), and low-frequency hearing loss (LFHL) by studying a total of 4,310 teens, aged 12 to 19, who had completed audiometric testing in 1988–1994 or 2005–2006.
According to the researchers, there were no significant increases in NITSs between survey periods, except for a 11.6% increase among female youths.
The researchers reported that the later cohort of 2006 females used hearing protection less frequently compared with male youths, and that this may be the cause for the increase in female NITSs.
Earlier in 2010, two conflicting reports were published about the prevalence of teenage hearing loss. In August, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study that said that the prevalence of hearing loss among US adolescents increased by about 30% from 1988-1994 to 2005-2006, with one in five (20%) adolescents having hearing loss in 2005-2006.
However, a few months later, scientists from the University of Minnesota released its findings, whch indicated that far fewer than 20% of teenagers in the United States have a hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud sounds, thus offering a different analysis of data reported in August.
Both the Harvard and JAMA study relied on databases from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), 1988-1994, and NHANES 2005-2006. NHANES III examined 2,928 participants and NHANES 2005-2006 examined 1,771 participants, ages 12 to 19 years.
The University of Minnesota study used data from its own marching band, and suggested that the NHANES-based results may have many false positives for hearing loss.
This latest study out of Harvard seems to only raise alarms about hearing loss in teenage women, but found no significant increase overall increase between the 1994 group and the 2006 group.