DIGEST

Study shows sharp increase in hearing loss among U.S. teens, especially boys

Mourners at All Saints Episcopal Church in Anchorage pay respects to former U.S. senator Ted Stevens, who died in a plane crash Aug. 9.
Mourners at All Saints Episcopal Church in Anchorage pay respects to former U.S. senator Ted Stevens, who died in a plane crash Aug. 9. (Rick Bowmer/associated Press)
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

HEALTH

More U.S. teenagers suffering hearing loss

Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. teenagers has some hearing loss, a sharp increase from just 15 years ago, according to a new study.

Josef Shargorodsky of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and colleagues examined data collected from more than 4,600 12-to-19-year-olds by two ongoing federal surveys. The first covered 1988 to 1994, and the other 2005 to 2006.

The prevalence of hearing loss increased from 14.9 percent in the 1988-94 period to 19.5 percent in the 2005-06 period, a rise of about 31 percent, the researchers reported Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The majority of hearing loss was slight, but the prevalence of mild or worse hearing loss increased 77 percent. One in 20 children in this age group had mild or worse hearing loss, according to the most recent survey. High-frequency hearing loss was more common than that in low frequencies. Most of the time the loss was in one ear. Girls were much less likely than boys to have lost some hearing.

Although the study did not examine the reasons for the hearing loss, the researchers said that other research has found that listening to music on portable stereo devices can play a role. They also noted that even a slight hearing loss can cause psychological, social and learning problems for kids.

-- Rob Stein

RACE RELATIONS

Sherrod sends letter supporting NAACP

Former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod and the NAACP have made up.

The civil rights organization sent a letter to its members from Sherrod on Tuesday. In the letter, Sherrod expressed her support for the NAACP and says she does not want to weaken support for the organization.


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