Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 26th 2013 Contents B36
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, June 26, 2013
NEW YORK---Teenagers are more
likely to have hearing loss if their
mothers smoked during pregnancy,
according to a new study that included
audio tests of close to 1,000 youth.
Researchers said that although the
link was "relatively modest," even lim-
ited hearing loss can have implications
for kids learning and social skills---so
it s important to reach out to those who
might need help, and to prevent as
much exposure as possible.
The findings "should be part of all
our efforts to get people not to smoke,
and especially not to smoke when
they re pregnant," said Dr Michael
Weitzman, a child health researcher
from the New York University School
of Medicine, who led the study.
Past research has tied smoking during
pregnancy to a range of childhood prob-
lems, including asthma and learning
In another study, Weitzman and his
colleagues found exposure to second-
hand smoke during adolescence was
linked to hearing loss, based on blood
tests for nicotine-related products.
This time, they analysed data on a
group of 12- to 15-year-olds who under-
went hearing tests in 2005-2006 as
part of a national health survey, and
whose parents were asked about smok-
ing in pregnancy. The hearing exams
were done in both ears to see if kids
had any trouble picking up on sounds
at different pitches.
Just over 16 per cent of youth had
moms who smoked while pregnant,
the study team reported in JAMA Oto-
laryngology---Head & Neck Surgery.
Those kids were especially at risk for
hearing loss at the lower frequencies
of human speech: one in six had hearing
problems in one ear, compared to one
in 14 whose moms didn t smoke.
Weitzman said many teens with mild
hearing loss don t realise they have a
problem, but that it can lead to irri-
tability and trouble in school.
What s more, he told Reuters Health,
it s possible the mild hearing loss meas-
ured in some adolescents will only get
worse in adulthood.
Hearing researcher Abbey Berg from
Pace University in New York said the
findings "make sense" given what is
known about risks to the baby when
a woman smokes during pregnancy,
including reduced oxygen flow.
"There are also toxins in the cigarettes
as well that we don t even know nec-
essarily what those are and what the
effects of those are," said Dr Josef Shar-
gorodsky, from Massachusetts Eye and
Ear Infirmary and Brigham and
Women s Hospital in Boston.
"There are so many other risks of
smoking in pregnancy," Shargorodsky,
who wasn t involved in the research,
told Reuters Health. "Preventing expo-
sures is the most important thing."
Berg, who also didn t participate in
the new study, said children who have
been exposed can be counseled growing
up about how to prevent further dam-
age to their hearing.
"These kids could be monitored and
hearing conservation and hearing edu-
cation could be started at a very young
age," she told Reuters Health.
Weitzman agreed that it s important
to spot young people with hearing trou-
"Parents might really want to con-
sider having their 12- to 15-year-olds
have hearing tests if they smoked during
pregnancy," he said. (Reuters)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
A new study, authored by Taiwanese
researcher Dr Ya-Mei Bai, links iron
deficiency anemia (IDA) with several
major depression, bipolar disorder,
attention deficit disorder and autism.
The study reviewed data maintained
in the Taiwan National Insurance Data-
base from nearly 15,000 children and
adolescents. Among those with low
iron levels, the risk of being diagnosed
with bipolar disorder was 580 per cent
higher than those with normal iron
levels. The increased risk associated
with low iron and major depression
was 234 per cent. Those with low iron
had a risk of developing attention deficit
disorder that was 167 per cent greater
than those with normal iron levels.
And autism was 308 per cent more
prevalent in those with low iron lev-
While this study does not mean that
low iron in children and adolescents
causes these psychiatric disorders, it
clearly means that any young person
(and probably anyone of any age) suf-
fering with a psychiatric disorder should
have his or her serum iron levels
Iron is also necessary for the proper
function of the brain s chemical mes-
senger systems---including those that
regulate serotonin, norepinephrine and
dopamine. These chemicals are
involved in mood, thought and per-
ception, as well.
Bai s study does not mean that iron
supplementation will prevent these
conditions in some or all of those who
have both iron deficiency and psychi-
atric disorders. But a study that looks
at that possibility should certainly be
Is iron deficiency causing
psychiatric disorders in kids?
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