Our aim with this article is to evaluate whether the prevalence of hearing loss is increasing among adolescents living in the United States.


All available data about hearing loss among adolescents from the large, federally funded National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were analyzed. By using the 4 data releases between 1994 and 2010 (a total of 6891 adolescents), the prevalence of adolescent hearing loss >15 and ≥25 dB at low frequencies (0.5, 1, and 2 kHz) and high frequencies (3, 4, 6, and 8 kHz) for bilateral, unilateral, and any loss were calculated.


Only 13 of 90 comparisons of prevalence across combinations of degree, frequency, and laterality of hearing loss revealed a statistically significant increase at P < .05. Among the 18 subgroups of degree, frequency, and laterality, 61% had a lower prevalence of hearing loss in 2010 than in 1994, and 100% of the subgroups had a lower prevalence in 2010 than in 2006.


With previous analyses of NHANES data from 1994 to 2006, researchers showed that hearing loss among US adolescents was increasing. Based on the NHANES data from 1994 to 2010 that are now available, there is no consistent evidence that hearing loss among adolescents in the United States is increasing. Results reveal that conclusions about trends using data from 2 time points can be misleading. NHANES should resume collecting audiometric data as part of their data collection protocol so that trends in the prevalence of childhood hearing loss can be documented.

You do not currently have access to this content.