Washington: If you have been exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) in adolescence, there are chances you may become progressively deaf.
Studies have linked exposure to SHS pre-natally or during childhood with various health conditions, from low birth weight and respiratory infections to behavioural problems.
Children exposed to SHS are more likely to develop recurrent middle ear infection (or otitis media) the study authors note, reports the journal Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
"Secondhand smoke may also have the potential to have an impact on auditory development, leading to sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL)," they add.
Anil K. Lalwani and colleagues from New York University Langone Medical Centre examined the risk factors for SNHL, including SHS, among adolescents.
They included 1,533 individuals aged between 12 to 19 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2006, according to a Langone statement.
Compared with teens who had no SHS exposure, those who were exposed to secondhand smoke exhibited higher rates of low- and high-frequency hearing loss.
The rate of hearing loss appeared to be cumulative. The results also demonstrated that more than 80 percent of participants with hearing loss did not realize they had impairment.
As hearing loss early in life can cause problems with development and functioning, the authors suggest that these results have "significant implications for public health in the United States."
"Adolescents who are exposed to SHS may need to be more closely monitored for hearing loss," the researchers conclude.