Poor nutrition as toddler may lead to hearing loss, needs more focus in public health programs

Adults who were not given proper nutrition in their preschool years are two times more likely to suffer from hearing loss as compared to those who were nourished better.

The study, led by a team at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, looked into the relationship between the hearing of more than 2,000 young adults in Nepal and their nutritional levels as children 16 years earlier. The findings show that proper nutrition programs in South Asia could help prevent hearing loss. Its a condition that affects nearly 116 million young people in this part of the world.

Link between nutrition & hearing loss neglected in South Asia

Hearing loss is the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide. An 80% of people who are affected live in low- and middle-income countries. Prevalence of hearing impairment among children and young adults in South Asia range from 14-28% of the population.

But it remains a neglected area of public health, say experts. The study also shows that young adults who were stunted in childhood were nearly twice as likely to show signs of hearing loss. Stunting, or being too short for one's age, is a severe condition of undernourishment that often starts before birth, a period critical for development of auditory function.

People who were too thin as children were also at a twofold increase of hearing loss. Acute malnutrition increases children's chances of getting an infection, including in the ear. Repeated ear infections can lead to hearing loss.

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