Thursday, December 11, 2003

i'm screwed


Hearing loss in adults could be the result of their short stature. That's the surprising finding of a Swedish study that actually goes so far as to conclude that short people are predisposed to hearing problems. The potential for adult hearing loss develops in the prenatal period, HealthDayNews reports of the research led by Marie-Louise Barrenas of the Goteborg Pediatric Growth Research Centre of Goteborg University.

The study: Two groups of men were recruited for the study. The first group included 479 men ages 20 to 64 who were exposed to noise on their jobs. A second group of 500 randomly-selected men all born in 1974 who were not exposed to noise on the job served as the control group. Data were collected on each man's height, weight, exposure to noise, heredity for hearing loss and other medical disorders, and the use of medication.

The results:
Unexpectedly, there was no association to noise exposure at work and hearing loss among the first group.
In the control group, short men were twice as likely as men of normal or tall height to suffer a hearing loss.
Shortness was associated with a family history of hearing loss.
Among the first group of workers, those who were short had worse hearing than expected for their age.
Short workers were three times more likely to have hearing loss compared with taller workers.
Short workers were 12 times more likely than taller workers to be taking medication.

Barrenas says that during gestation, there are various negative factors that can affect the growth of the fetus. One of these factors is a low level of the growth hormone IGF-1, which causes the newborn baby to have a reduced number of cells at birth. That causes the child to be shorter than normal. That has a lifetime effect on the individual's health and can increase the risk for early onset of age-related health problems, including hearing loss.

The research was published in the British Medical Journal.

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