Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Hits Teens: ASHA Holds National Press Club Event to Highlight Dangers of MP3 Players; Media Coverage Goes Worldwide More than half of high school students surveyed report at least one symptom of hearing loss, according to results of a study commissioned by ASHA and conducted by Zogby International. Nearly 75 million people worldwide saw or heard about the survey after ASHA convened a panel of experts and ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   April 01, 2006
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Hits Teens: ASHA Holds National Press Club Event to Highlight Dangers of MP3 Players; Media Coverage Goes Worldwide
Author Notes
  • Dee Naquinan Shafer, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at dshafer@asha.org.
    Dee Naquinan Shafer, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at dshafer@asha.org.×
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Hearing Disorders / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   April 01, 2006
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Hits Teens: ASHA Holds National Press Club Event to Highlight Dangers of MP3 Players; Media Coverage Goes Worldwide
The ASHA Leader, April 2006, Vol. 11, 1-27. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.11052006.1
The ASHA Leader, April 2006, Vol. 11, 1-27. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.11052006.1

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More than half of high school students surveyed report at least one symptom of hearing loss, according to results of a study commissioned by ASHA and conducted by Zogby International. Nearly 75 million people worldwide saw or heard about the survey after ASHA convened a panel of experts and legislators in Washington, DC to discuss its results at a press conference on March 14. Both audiologists and legislators agreed that education is the key to reducing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
“Our poll tells us that we should take a close look at the potential impact of some popular technology on hearing health,” said Alex Johnson, ASHA’s 2006 president, who introduced the session, which drew wide national and international media coverage.
“It is well-accepted in the scientific literature that the auditory system is more fragile in very young experimental models,” said Brenda Lonsbury-Martin, ASHA’s chief staff officer, science and research. She added that developing NIHL at an early age promises to lead to a lifetime of hearing problems.
“Listening to music at a volume [high enough] to annoy your parents is a rite of passage,” said Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), the vice chair of the House Health Subcommittee. The resulting danger to hearing has increased tremendously because technology has changed.
Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) predicted a bipartisan effort at protecting hearing. “There is no conservative viewpoint on protecting hearing health,” he said.
Markey, the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, said he would call for more research on the NIHL issue. Little research has been done on new technology including MP3 players, Apple’s iPod, and portable DVD players, he said.
“I listen to an MP3 player and I enjoy it,” said Brian Fligor, Children’s Hospital in Boston, a researcher who has focused on output levels of personal stereo systems. For some songs, he turns up the volume. “But I’m a very informed listener and I’ll turn it back down.”
“Manufacturers must be ethical,” said Dean Garstecki of Northwestern University. “They should not create a product that is harmful in normal use.” Noise-induced hearing loss is a global phenomenon, he added, noting that in France, the government has required the iPods sold there to include built-in limits on the volume control. He called for ASHA to collaborate with industry in providing safe products for consumers.
“Minimal hearing loss is not inconsequential,” said Anne Marie Tharpe, Vanderbilt University, who spoke at the press conference. A survey done in the early 1980s at Vanderbilt studied the notion that children with minimal hearing loss could be accommodated by preferential seating in a classroom. Research revealed that children with unilateral hearing loss were 10 times more likely to suffer academic difficulties than their normal hearing peers.
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April 2006
Volume 11, Issue 5