Antibiotics Might Increase Risk of Hearing Loss


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hearing loss, antibiotics

Photo courtesy of Jim Lynch via Flickr

  • Antibiotics might increase risk of hearing loss: According to findings of a new study from the Oregon Health & Science University, recently published in the journal Science-Translational Medicine, patients with dangerous bacterial infections are at greater risk of hearing loss than previously recognized. The study results indicate that by increasing the uptake of aminoglycoside antibiotics into the inner ear, inflammation from the bacterial infections substantially increased susceptibility to hearing impairment. As Peter S. Steyger, Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at Oregon Hearing Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, explained: “Currently, it’s accepted that the price that some patients have to pay for surviving a life-threatening bacterial infection is the loss of their ability to hear. We must swiftly bring to clinics everywhere effective alternatives for treating life-threatening infections that do not sacrifice patients’ ability to hear. Most instances in which patients are treated with aminoglycosides involve infants with life-threatening infections. The costs of this incalculable loss are borne by patients and society. When infants lose their hearing, they begin a long and arduous process to learn to listen and speak. This can interfere with their educational trajectory and psychosocial development, all of which can have a dramatic impact on their future employability, income and quality of life.” Many physicians rely on the use of aminoglycoside antibiotics to treat meningitis, bacteremia and respiratory infections in cystic fibrosis, although aminoglycosides kill the sensory cells in the inner ear that detect sound and motion. Infants in neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs, are at particular risk; approximately 80 percent of 600,000 admissions into NICUs in the United States receive aminoglycosides annually. The rate of hearing loss in NICU graduates is 2 to 4 percent compared with 0.1 to 0.3 percent of full-term births from congenital causes of hearing loss.
  • Extreme food pickiness in preschoolers linked to mental health problems: According to a new study, preschoolers who are extremely picky eaters may also be more prone to mental health problems. The study results indicate that kids with severely selective eating habits are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or social anxiety than kids who consume a wide variety of foods. Even moderately selective eating was linked to some psychological difficulties. These kids were more likely to have symptoms of depression, anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder than children with more varied diets. As the lead author Nancy Zucker, director of the center for eating disorders at Duke University, explained: “This is not a simple story of indulgent parents or bratty kids. These are children who are profoundly sensitive to their internal and external world – so things smell stronger and they may have more intense feelings.” The study adds to a growing body of evidence linking picky eating to sensory processing difficulties, said Helen Coulthard, a psychology researcher at De Montfort University in Leicester, U.K. who wasn’t involved in the study.
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