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Parents in denial about teen hearing loss

earbudsAlthough 1 in 6 U.S. adolescents has high-frequency hearing loss, a new report from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital shows that many parents don’t think their teens are at risk.

The National Poll on Children’s Health asked parents of teens ages 13-17 about noise-induced hearing loss in September 2011. Despite an apparent recent increase in hearing loss in teenagers, two-thirds of parents report that they have not talked to their teen about hearing loss. Among these parents, more than three-quarters believe their teens are not at risk.

“Teenagers are unaware of noise-induced hearing damage until it progresses to the point where it affects speech and communication,” says Sarah Clark, M.P.H., Associate Director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit at the U of M. “At this point, they may have difficulties and frustration at school and in social situations.”

Noise-induced hearing loss is not reversible, but it is preventable.

Audiologists recommend that parents encourage the use of volume-limiting headphones or earbuds – devices that look like regular headphones or earbuds but constrain sound to 85 decibels or less, a reduction of up to 40% in maximum volume output.

Only 32% of parents know about volume-limiting devices. When informed, over half of parents of teens report they’d be willing to purchase volume-limiting headphones or earbuds, but only about a third think their teen would be likely to use them.

The full report is available at: www.med.umich.edu/mott/npch/pdf/121211hearingloss.pdf
 

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