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Among Youths, Secondhand Smoke May Be Linked To Hearing Loss

Filed by KOSU News in Health.
July 19, 2011

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke face an increased risk of a litany of problems, including asthma, respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

And researchers at New York University’s med school say results of study they’ve conducted may add one more problem to the list: Adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke were more likely to experience hearing loss.

The study’s lead author Anil K. Lalwani, an otolaryngologist at NYU, told Shots that, considering this study, parents who are smokers shouldn’t think that their smoking just affects them. “This is another piece of evidence that there’s a significant health consequence for their children — and everyone around them — from secondhand smoke,” he says.

For the study, researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey a few years back, focusing on more than 1,500 nonsmoking adolescents ages 12 to 19. Survey participants were first evaluated in their homes, then given hearing and blood tests at a medical center. They were tested for serum cotinine, a marker that points to tobacco exposure over the previous couple days at most, Lalwani says.

Researchers for the study, which appeared in the July issue of Archives of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, found that exposure to tobacco smoke exposure was linked to a two-fold increase of hearing loss risk.

In addition, researchers found a correlation between cotinine in the blood and severity of hearing loss. Furthermore, more than 80 percent of those who had hearing loss didn’t know it. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half of U.S. children are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Lalwani says, in the future, they’re looking to determine whether the risk of hearing loss will simply go away if you eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. But meanwhile, Lalwani recommends that adolescents who are exposed to secondhand spoke get their hearing screened. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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