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Wednesday, 19 June 2013 15:35

Childhood Obesity and Hearing Loss

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The New York Times' Nicholas Bakalar writes of a new study in The Laryngoscope linking obesity in teenagers to hearing loss. The study was written by a team of doctors from Columbia Univesity and NYU, combining otolaryngology (ENT, or "ear, nose and throat"), pediatrics and environmental medicine.

According to Bakalar,

The researchers controlled for various factors, including poverty, sex, race and previous exposure to loud noises. They found that being at or above the 95th percentile for body mass index — the definition of obesity in teenagers — was independently associated with poorer hearing over all frequencies, and with almost double the risk of low-frequency hearing loss in one ear. They suggest that this may represent an early stage of injury that will later progress to both ears, as it does in adults.

The reason for the connection is not known, but the scientists suggest that inflammation induced by obesity may be a factor in organ damage.

“It’s quite possible that early intervention could arrest the progression,” said the lead author, Dr. Anil K. Lalwani, a professor of otolaryngology at Columbia University. “This is another reason to lose weight — but not to lose hope.”



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