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The long list of reasons for not smoking during pregnancy has just lengthened further: children exposed to tobacco smoke in the womb may be at increased risk of hearing loss.
The researchers examined data on nearly a thousand children between twelve and fifteen years of age who participated in the National survey of health examination of EE. UU from 2005 to 2006. They found that about 16% had been exposed to tobacco smoke in the womb.
Those adolescents had evidence of some general hearing loss, and were almost three times more likely to suffer a low-frequency hearing loss on one side, compared to children without those exposures, according to the study, which appears in the online edition of June 20 of the JAMA Otolaryngology journal - Head & Neck Surgery.
The level of hearing loss associated with fetal exposure to tobacco smoke was "relatively modest", less than three decibels, a team led by the Dr. Michael Weitzman, of the NYU School of Medicine, in New York City . "However, an almost threefold increase in the odds of unilateral hearing loss in adolescents with prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke is worrisome," they wrote.
"It is an effect that has been described previously in the adult population, so it is logical that it also applies to the children of smokers," he said. Dr. Ian Storper, director of otology at the Center for Ear and Balance Disorders at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City .
Storper said the study "provides more reasons to eliminate the use of tobacco in the entire population and to continue research in the area to understand the mechanism of damage to the auditory system."
Dr. Martín Chávez, director of Maternal and Fetal Medicine at the University Hospital of Winthrop, in Mineola, New York, He agreed, noting that fetal exposure to toxins "can have lifelong consequences."
The new study "proves that not smoking or avoiding being around other people who smoke may not only increase the chances of having a healthy newborn, but also reduce the likelihood of other diseases later," Chavez emphasized.