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Kids Still Pumping Up the Volume

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

A new survey has found that children and their parents who like to crank up the volume on their music would turn down the sound level or use ear protection if they were told to do so by a health-care professional.

The survey, conducted by Vanderbilt University researchers in conjunction with MTV.com found that nearly half of those surveyed said they experienced symptoms such as tinnitus or hearing loss after being exposed to loud music. 32 percent said they considered hearing loss a problem. The survey is published in the July 13, 2009, online issue of Pediatrics.

About 75 percent of those surveyed said they owned an MP3 player, and 24 percent listened to it for more than 15 hours a week. Nearly half said they use a music player at 75 to 100 percent of its maximum volume, which exceeds government regulations for occupational sound levels.

When surrounded by external sounds, such as subway or traffic noise, 89 percent of the respondents said they increase the volume on their music player, the study found.

The people surveyed said the media is the most informative source about hearing loss prevention, and the health care community was considered the least likely source. However, they said they would change their music listening behavior if advised to do so by a health-care professional.

“Hearing loss is so prevalent that it has become the norm,” study author Dr. Roland Eavey, chairman of otolaryngology at Vanderbilt, said in a university news release. He noted that studies “show that 90 percent of males age 60 and over now have hearing loss.”

Since the researchers’ last survey about loud music and hearing loss, which they conducted in 2002, “we have learned that enough people still are not yet aware, but that more are becoming aware, especially through the help of the media,” Eavey said.

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