Loud Music Causing More Teens to Lose Hearing, Experts Say

More teens losing hearing; experts blame loud music.

ByABC News
August 17, 2010, 11:29 AM

August 17, 2010 -- Brooklyn Miller is a 13-year-old who has a lot in common with other girls her age. She enjoys socializing with her friends and likes to dance.

She also wears hearing aids because of a mild to moderate hearing loss her mother says was caused by chronic ear infections when she was an infant.

That hearing loss is something she has in common with an increasing number of children her age across the country.

Researchers used data from a national heath and nutrition survey done between 1988 and 1994. They compared the number of children ages 12 to 19 with hearing loss in those years to the number of children with a hearing loss in 2005 and 2006. They found that in 2005 and 2006, 1 in 5 children had hearing problems. That represents more than a 30 percent increase since the first survey.

The most common kind of loss was high-frequency hearing loss, though researchers did not determine the reasons why these children lost their hearing.

"This study has put in data what we've suspected all along," said Tommie L. Robinson, president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

While they don't know for sure, hearing experts have a theory about why more and more teenagers are suffering from hearing loss.

"The high-frequency hearing loss is most consistent with noise exposure," said Dr. John W. House, president of the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles. "I think we're seeing that trend now because of iPods and other personal listening devices that teenagers listen to at high volumes for long periods of time."

Brooklyn Miller didn't suffer from the effects of loud music. But her mother, Susan Miller, worries that her three other children will damage their hearing because of their iPods.

"I keep telling them to turn down their earphones because they're going to suffer from a hearing loss," said Susan. "But they don't relate it to the headphones. To them, it's because Brooklyn has a problem."