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20pc of iPod generation have hearing problems

Teenagers are being urged to turn down the volume on their iPods after a study found hearing problems among youngsters have risen by nearly a third in 15 years.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared national surveys from the early 1990s and the mid-2000s.

In the first survey, about 15pc of teenagers were found to have some degree of hearing loss. Some 15 years later, that number had risen by a third, to nearly 20pc -- or one in five.

"That's a few kids per classroom who will have hearing problems," said researcher Dr Josef Shargorodsky of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"Teenagers really underestimate how much noise they are exposed to. Often the individual won't notice it, but even slight hearing loss may lead to differences in language development and learning."


The study found most of the hearing loss was in one ear only but the extent of loss was getting worse.

For while it was usually slight, one in 20 adolescents had more pronounced problems -- up 50pc since the first survey. Dr Shargorodsky said he was surprised by the new findings. He said better medical care for ear infections -- one of the usual suspects in hearing damage -- should in theory have decreased the numbers.

"Some risk factors, such as loud sound exposure from listing to music, may be of particular importance to adolescents," the report said.