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

We have a handy information booklet on how we hear if you are interested apply below and we will send you a FREE copy.howdowehear2

Deaf contestant enters the Big Brother House

Sam EvansBig Brother UK kicked off its 14th series last night as nine housemates entered Britain’s most famous house. Among the contestants is Sam Evans who was born with severe hearing loss (70-80%), which his parents discovered when he was three years old.    Hearing loss is becoming more and more prevalent in young people.  There are many misconceptions around hearing loss – one major one being that people with hearing loss tend to be older.  At Hidden Hearing we are seeing a huge increase in the number of people sometimes as young as 30 suffering from hearing loss which you might expect a person aged 70 to have.Sam, who is favourite to win the show, represented Great Britain and Wales as part of their deaf football team demonstrating that being Deaf or hard of hearing is no barrier to achieving goals or dreams.He also wants to become a role model to Deaf children who are too ashamed to wear their hearing aids.  Many people are reluctant to use hearing aids because of their preconceptions about big, old, whistling one-colour hearing aids that they feel would be deeply embarrassing to wear.  However, modern hearing aids are small, comfortable and nearly invisible.  You notice hearing aids not hearing loss and at Hidden Hearing we have hearing aids to suit all lifestyles and budgets.

We have a handy information booklet on how we hear if you are interested apply below and we will send you a FREE copy.howdowehear2