Smoking during pregnancy tied to offspring’s hearing loss

pregnant-woman-smokingTeenagers exposed to tobacco smoke before birth were three times more likely to have hearing loss, according to a new study that included audio tests of close to 1,000 youths.

The discovery that adolescents whose mothers had smoked during pregnancy had defects in both high-frequency and low-frequency hearing suggest that the developing auditory system is damaged by in utero exposure to tobacco smoke, according to Dr Michael Weitzman, a child health researcher from the New York University School of Medicine, who led the study.

In another study, Weitzman and his colleagues found exposure to second hand smoke during adolescence was linked to hearing loss, based on blood tests for nicotine-related products.

This time they analysed data on a group of 12- to 15-year-olds who underwent hearing tests in 2005-2006 as part of a national health survey, and whose parents were asked about smoking during pregnancy. The hearing exams were done in both ears to see if children had any trouble picking up sounds at different pitches.

Researchers discovered that 16% of teenagers surveyed had been exposed to smoke while in the womb.  These teens were three times more likely to have one-sided, low-frequency hearing loss compared to those who were not exposed to cigarette smoke.  The level of hearing impairment associated with foetal exposure to tobacco smoke was ‘relatively modest’ at three decibels however an almost three-fold increased odds of unilateral hearing loss in adolescents with prenatal smoke exposure was described as ‘worrisome’.

Weitzman said many teens with mild hearing loss don’t realise they have a problem, but that it can lead to irritability and trouble in school.  What’s more, he said it’s possible the mild hearing loss measured in some adolescents will only get worse in adulthood. Hearing researcher Abbey Berg from Pace University in New York said the findings “make sense”, given what is known about risks to the baby when a woman smokes during pregnancy, including reduced oxygen flow.

She also advised that hearing conservation and hearing education should be started at a very young age. Weitzman agreed that it’s important to spot young people with hearing trouble early saying that “Parents might really want to consider having their 12- to 15-year-olds undergo hearing tests if they smoked during pregnancy,” he said.

If you’re worried about you or your child’s hearing contact your local Hidden Hearing branch.  Hidden Hearing offers free hearing tests at its 60 branches nationwide. To book a test Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit

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Keeping Up With. . . . . Hearing Loss


Bruce Jenner’s Hearing Loss Leads To Brain Tumor Scare On Kardashians

Keeping Up With the Kardashians‘ beloved patriarch Bruce Jenner‘s hearing loss led to a brain tumor scare for the Olympic legend.

That’s what viewers found out on Sunday night’s episode of the family’s E! show, when the former decathlete went to the doctor after driving wife Kris Jenner and the kids crazy by blasting the TV and not being able to hear their conversations. When Bruce checked out his hearing loss, however, he got the shock of his life — an ear growth was discovered and he had to undergo an MRI to rule out a brain tumor.

But luckily, the sports hero, 63, is going to be just fine. With Kris, Kim and Khloe Kardashian by his side at Dr. Rick Friedman‘s office, Bruce learned he didn’t have a tumor. “Your MRI is clear. Your brain’s good,” Dr. Friedman said, as Bruce’s relieved family members cheered. The doctor said Bruce just needed a hearing aid.

The proud Olympian sighed, “I don’t want it to be seen,” but when his doctor recommended a tiny one, Bruce said he would consider the idea.

Bruce claimed although his hearing wasn’t as sharp as it used to be, it was good enough. However, Kim convinced Bruce’s older son, Brandon Jenner, to pressure him on the issue, and the athlete admitted to Brandon irritably, “I have to get it checked out.”

Dr. Friedman said he had a substantial decline in high frequency sound, then said he had a growth in his ear. But everything ended well for the famous dad!

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit