News & Events
September 4, 2015
Childhood infections can cause hearing loss later in life

Common childhood infections can be linked to hearing loss, a UK study shows

Hearing loss in elderly people is often perceived as a natural effect of getting older, but a study from Newcastle University shows that infections in early childhood can cause hearing loss.

The study shows that people who have suffered from childhood infections are more likely to develop hearing loss in their 60s.

Infections like tonsillitis, ear infection like otitis media and multiple episodes of bronchitis proved to have an impact on hearing after the age of 60.

Ongoing study since 1947

The study is ongoing and the first findings were conducted in 1947. Since then, 1,142 babies from Newcastle in the UK have been measured on their health, growth and development.

When in their 50s and 60s, the test subjects were asked about social deprivation and childhood infections and their teenage years and early adulthood were mapped. Since the past century, health, fitness and bone density have also been examined.

Leading researcher of the study, Dr. Mark Pearce, Newcastle University, says this type of study is unique because of its duration:

“The study is 70 years old and continues to make a major contribution to understanding health conditions, which is only possible through the continued contribution of cohort members,” he says in ChronicleLive.

Protect hearing early in life

The findings show that it is important to think about protecting hearing from an early age. Dr. Mark Pearce, emphasizes that hearing loss after the age of 60 may be preventable:

“Our findings show that those who suffered from infections as a child were more likely to have a hearing loss in their 60s. Reducing childhood infection rates may help prevent hearing loss later in life,” he says.

The study was published in the journal Ear and Hearing.