Nearly one out of seven children aged between 9 and 11 years in the Generation R population screening suffers from noise-induced hearing loss.
The study does not demonstrate conclusively that the hearing damage in these children has been caused by using music players. However, the study does indicate that children who use music players are three times more likely to suffer noise-induced hearing loss, according to the researchers involved. They have just published their findings in the leading journal JAMA Otolaryngology - Head & Neck
Hearing loss is a major health problem worldwide. Patients suffer, and the costs for society are considerable. Hearing loss can have a negative impact on a child's development even at a very young age, which can lead to poor performance at school, among other things. Researcher Carlijn le Clercq explains: "That's why it's so important to test children's hearing acuity, and to understand how music players can affect their sense of hearing. We conducted extensive hearing tests in more than 3,000 children in the Generation R population screening and found that fourteen percent of them had suffered hearing damage from excessive noise."
ENT specialist and principal investigator Marc van der Schroeff explains the seriousness of the situation: "These percentages may seem small, but to be honest, I find it shocking that we are seeing children suffering hearing loss caused by excessive noise, and that we have identified a relationship with the use of music players. These are just ten-year-olds, after all. We assume that these children will be exposed to even more excessive noise as they grow older, when they will attend music festivals and other noisy events. This can lead to an accumulation of damage. They may end up suffering from hearing loss, tinnitus, and similar complaints for the rest of their lives."
The researchers only observed the children in this study, so they cannot say conclusive that music players are responsible for hearing loss. This will require extensive follow-up research. Van der Schroeff:"We are currently repeating our measurements in this same group of children. Our observations do show, however, that children who use music players at the age of ten are three times more likely to suffer noise-induced hearing loss."
See the press release.