Future burden of age-related hearing loss may be overestimated: JAMA Study
USA: Hearing impairment (HI) risk and rate of pure-tone average (PTA) change is lower for Baby Boom Generation and Silent Generation compared with the Greatest Generation, finds a recent study.
The findings of the study, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, implies that the future burden of HI may be lower than suggested by the current estimate.
Age-adjusted HI prevalence decreased across generations in the 20th century. This suggests that HI is partially preventable. However, it is not known of HI incidence differs by generation. Therefore, Adam J. Paulsen, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and colleagues examined whether HI incidence and PTA change differ by generation and identify factors that underline these differences.
For the purpose, the researchers used data from the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study (EHLS) and Beaver Dam Offspring Study (BOSS) -- a pair of studies of adults in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Baseline levels were measured from 1993 to 1995 in the EHLS and 2005 to 2008 in BOSS, with two 5-year follow-up examinations in each cohort. This longitudinal cohort study assessed 3651 participants without HI at baseline who had follow-up data.
The primary outcome was incident HI measured by pure-tone audiometry, defined as PTA greater than 25-dB hearing level (dB HL) in either ear.
Key findings of the study include:
- The 5-year HI incidence was 14.1% and the 10-year cumulative incidence was 26.0%.
- The incidence increased with age.
- The risk of 5-year incident HI decreased by generation (RR, 0.80) when adjusting for multiple covariates.
- The decreased risk was similar in the 10-year period (HR, 0.86).
- The PTA change rate (per 5 years of follow-up) decreased by generation, with the Greatest Generation (born 1901-1924) experiencing the highest rate (7.03 dB HL).
- The rates were all significantly lower for the other generations (Silent Generation [born 1925-1945], 3.30 dB HL; Baby Boom Generation [born 1946-1964], 3.36 dB HL; and Generation X [born 1965-1984], 2.33 dB HL
"Our results suggests that the risk of HI and rate of PTA change is lower for the Silent Generation and Baby Boom Generation compared with the Greatest Generation," wrote the authors.
"Part of this lower risk is likely associated with changes in modifiable factors. A potential continued benefit may exist for Generation X. Combined with the reduced risk of HI for the Silent Generation and Baby Boom Generation, this finding implies that the future HI burden may be lower than current estimates suggest."
The study titled, "Incidence of Hearing Impairment and Changes in Pure-Tone Average Across Generations," is published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.