Short? Hearing Loss May Be in Your Future

Researchers See Link Between Short Stature, Hearing Loss in Adulthood

From the WebMD Archives

Nov. 20, 2003 -- If you're losing your hearing, your height may have something to do with it, new research shows.

A study appearing in this week's British Medical Journal examines what could yet be another association of fetal malnutrition to adult disease -- in this case, hearing loss.

Deficiencies in growth hormones been have been found in fetal malnutrition, writes lead researcher Marie-Louise Barrenas, with the Institute of the Health of the Woman and Child at Goteberg University in Sweden.

Low levels of these hormones can be associated with shortness. The authors of this study wanted to see if shortness in adults was also linked to hearing loss.

In their study, researchers tested the hearing of 479 men between 20 and 64 years old who were exposed to noise in their jobs. They compared the results with 500 randomly chosen men -- comparing height, weight, noise exposure, family history of hearing loss, and other medical disorders including drug use.

Shortness was found twice as often in those with hearing loss. "Short workers had worse hearing than expected by age -- three times more often than taller workers," writes Barrenas. They were also 12 times more likely to take drugs.

Because high blood pressure is associated with hearing loss, the researchers testing hearing loss associated with age in people that had high blood pressure.

They found that older, shorter men with high blood pressure had significantly worse hearing, but in tall men, high blood pressure had no effect, and the influence of aging on hearing loss was less in taller men.

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SOURCES: News release, British Medical Journal. Barrenas, M. British Medical Journal, Nov. 22, 2003; vol 327: pp 1199-1200.
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