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Study Links Cigarette Smoking While Pregnant to Hearing Loss in Adolescents

By Lindsay Friedman, USA TODAY 7/8/2013

A new study links cigarette smoking while pregnant to hearing loss in adolescents.

Story Highlights

  • Prenatal smoking has been linked to premature birth
  • Kids with exposure were about three times more likely to have mild hearing loss
  • Hearing loss can lead to cognitive and academic issues

Parents can add hearing loss to the list of bad things tobacco smoke can do to children.

Previously, prenatal smoking has been linked to negative consequences in children of all ages, including premature birth, low weight or underdevelopment and asthma. Now, a connection also has been made between smoking while pregnant and hearing loss in adolescents, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology.

"Cigarette smoking is probably the worst man-made epidemic," says Michael Weitzman, study author and a professor at the New York University School of Medicine.

In a group of 964 kids ranging in age from 12 to 15 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2005-2006, about 16{31ab897a4370feb218155abc15d7b38f5bba01528a749bd66fe114ec092a63fc} of parents confirmed prenatal smoke exposure. In most cases, kids with exposure were roughly three times more likely to have mild hearing loss. Kids without exposure also were found to hear better by three decibels in comparison with those who were exposed.

"Most of the mothers in this particular sample quit (smoking) in the first trimester," says Anil Lalwani, study contributor and professor and vice chairman for research at Columbia University. "Even brief encounters (with tobacco smoke) have negative effects."

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