Small birth size increases men’s hearing loss risk

Men who were born smaller than normal and do not catch up in height or who become overweight face a higher risk of hearing loss than other men, according to a report in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“Doctors should ask their patients about hearing loss and also any improvement or worsening of hearing as a patient’s weight increases or declines”, said Dr. Marie-Louise Barrenas from Goteborg University, Sweden.

Barrenas and colleagues investigated the risk of hearing loss as a function of body size from birth to military conscription in nearly 250,000 Swedish men.

Men who were born weighing less than expected according to the length of pregnancy were 41 percent more likely to have hearing loss than men who were born with an appropriate weight, the report indicates.

The team found that men born shorter than expected and who remained short at the time of conscription were 50 percent more likely than similar men who achieved normal height to have hearing loss at high frequencies.

Being overweight was associated with a 30- to 40-percent increased risk of hearing loss, the researchers note, and obesity was associated with a doubling of risk. Men born light who became overweight were 118 percent more likely to develop hearing loss than men with normal weight, the results indicate.

“We believe that the mechanisms involve substances produced by the fat tissue, which in turn are toxic to the sensory cells” in the inner ear, Barrenas said.

“All professionals responsible for public health should be aware that the recent changes in life style, which leads to Obesity, might also affect hearing,” she concluded.

Barrenas and associates are currently investigating whether weight loss can prevent hearing loss. They expect to have results within the next 3 years.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, August 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Tatiana Kuznetsova, D.M.D.