Subjective screening questions do not reliably identify teenagers who are at risk for hearing loss, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine. The results suggest that objective hearing tests should be refined for this age group to replace screening questions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in partnership with the Bright Futures children's health organization, sets standards for pediatric preventive care. The AAP recommends screening adolescents with subjective questions and then following up with objective hearing tests for those found to be at high risk of hearing loss.
However, the screening questions were not specifically developed for children or adolescents. Studies also show that adolescents are poor self-reporters of hearing status.
"We found that you can't rely on the Bright Futures questions to select out teenagers at high risk for hearing loss who would warrant an objective screen," said Deepa Sekhar, M.D., M.Sc., assistant professor of pediatrics.
A study in 2010 using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that one in five adolescents aged 12 to 19 has hearing loss. Most have high-frequency hearing loss, which may be related to increasing hazardous noise exposures from such things as personal listening devices, concert-going, ATV-riding and hunting with firearms.
For the study, eleventh grade students at Hershey High School -- located in the college's community -- answered the 10 Bright Futures hearing screening questions and additional questions assessing other potential risk factors for adolescent hearing loss.
They also took the Pennsylvania state-mandated hearing test -- the familiar hearing screening where children raise their hand when they hear a tone -- and a hearing test developed by the researchers to better detect high-frequency noise-related hearing loss. Some of the children underwent additional standard hearing testing in a soundproof booth. The researchers report their results in the Journal of Medical Screening.
Neither the Bright Futures questions nor the additional questions were tailored specifically to adolescent hearing loss. In addition, the Pennsylvania school hearing test was found to have a sensitivity of 13 percent for adolescent hearing loss while the study-designed hearing test had 100 percent sensitivity.
"Although our test had more false positives, we caught 100 percent of the students with hearing loss," Sekhar said.
School hearing tests currently used in most states screen mainly for low-frequency hearing loss, which is seen more often in younger children in association with frequent ear infections and fluid in the ear. Sekhar's previous research showed that these tests often miss high-frequency hearing loss.
She is working to develop an objective hearing screening test specifically for adolescents with more high-frequency tones above 3,000 Hertz. These tones are typically affected by hazardous noise exposure. A testing protocol that requires adolescents to fail twice instead of once will reduce false positives.
"The onset of high-frequency hearing loss is often very insidious and the symptoms are often very subtle," Sekhar said. "It's important to identify hearing problems at any age because of the impact it can have on all different areas of life, including academic success, workplace advancement and social relationships."
Students with mild hearing loss are more likely to repeat a grade, and it's estimated that people with hearing loss lose between $220,000 and $440,000 in earnings over a lifetime.
The study failed to find an association between typical adolescent noise exposures and hearing loss. The challenge in doing so may stem from the fact that genetics and duration of exposure are additional factors that affect an individual's risk of hearing loss.
"You could be listening at a lower volume for an extended period of time, and that can be as bad as a high-volume sound for a short period of time," Sekhar said.
Additional researchers on this project are Tonya King, associate professor of health evaluation science and Ian Paul, professor of pediatrics and public health science, both at Penn State; and Thomas Zalewski, professor of audiology, Bloomsburg University.
A grant from the Academic Pediatric Association/Maternal and Child Health Bureau Young Investigator Award funded this research.
Matt Solovey | Eurek Alert!
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy