Boomers have better hearing than parents
By BILL NOVAK
January 15, 2010
Turn it up to 11!
Believe it or not, loud rock and roll music did not make all baby boomers deaf.
In the first large-scale hearing study comparing older generations of
adults to the baby boomers, those parents telling their kids to "turn
that damned music down" had more hearing loss than the kids.
The study, performed by researchers at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, was of 5,275
adults from Beaver Dam.
The older generation hearing loss study started in 1993.
In 2005, researchers expanded the study when they began testing the
hearing of adult children, i.e. the baby boomers, as part of the
Beaver Dam Offspring Study.
"Contrary to what our parents thought, we didn't lose our hearing
from listening to transistor radios in the '60s, boom boxes in the
'80s or iPods in the last decade," said Dr. Karen Cruickshanks, a
professor at the school.
The study showed hearing impairment rates were 31 percent lower in
baby boomers across all age groups.
"Generally, people think that our world is getting noisier and
noisier, but we found that the prevalence of hearing loss is
decreasing," said Dr. Weihai Zhan, lead researcher on the study.
"These results suggest hearing loss is not a normal part of aging and
there are things we can do to delay hearing loss."
The study was published Friday in the American Journal of
Epidemiology, with the UW-Madison Communications office highlighting
the study in a release on Thursday.
The study said if baby boomers lost their hearing at the same rate as
their parents, about 65.5 million Americans would be hearing-impaired
by 2030. The new data suggests that number will be more like 50.9 million.
Evidence suggests day-to-day exposure to loud noise, such as in the
workplace, leads to long-term hearing loss, while a one-time
exposure, such as going to a rock concert, only results in temporary