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Passive smoking 'can damage hearing'

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Passive smoking can cause damage to teenagers’ hearing, according to a study.

Researchers in the US carried out hearing and blood tests on more than 1,500 young people aged between 12 and 19 for the study.

They found that exposing a child to tobacco smoke could almost double their risk of developing a hearing impairment.

The levels of hearing loss were mild but enough to potentially hinder their performance in the classroom, the researchers found.

The children who took part in the study were tested for their ability to hear different frequencies of sound and also for levels of a chemical known to be linked to passive smoking, cotinine, in their blood.

The scientists found those exposed to smoke performed worse than those who lived in a non-smoking home.

They were found to particularly struggle with mid to high frequency sounds, associated with understanding speech.

The findings have been published in the journal Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.

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